The Housing Ombudsman processes personal information to enable us to carry out our statutory duties which may include the consideration and investigation of complaints, providing advice and information, supporting and managing our employees, undertaking research, corporate administration and all activities we are required to carry out as a data controller and a public authority.
People who make an enquiry or complaint
When we receive an enquiry or complaint from a person we make up a file containing details of the complaint on a computer, on paper or both. This normally contains the identity of the complainant and any other individuals involved in the complaint together with the documentary evidence provided.
The Ombudsman must ask a complainant for consent to process personal data, the complaint, or any other information or documents relating to the complaint for the purposes of sharing it with the member landlord, others with an interest in its outcome. If a complainant withholds consent the Ombudsman cannot continue with her consideration of the complaint.
We only use the personal information we collect to process the complaint and to check the level of service we provide through customer feedback. We do compile and publish statistics showing information like the number of complaints we receive, but not in a form which identifies anyone.
We usually have to disclose the complainant’s identity to whoever the complaint is about. This is inevitable to allow the member landlord to respond. If a complainant doesn’t want information identifying him or her to be disclosed, the Ombudsman cannot continue with her consideration of the complaint.
We keep personal information contained in complaint files in line with our retention policy. This means that information relating to a complaint is retained for 12 months from closure. It is retained in a secure environment and access to it will be restricted according to the ‘need to know’ principle.
Similarly, where enquiries are submitted to us we will only use the information supplied to us to deal with the enquiry and any subsequent issues and to check on the level of service we provide.
From time to time the Ombudsman may publish case studies, or non-compliance with her determinations on our website or in her Annual Report. This may include matters arising from her work and research including summaries of her determinations and any conclusions which she wishes to bring to a wider audience. We do not identify any complainants in these reports or summaries.
People who email us
Any email sent to us, including any attachments, may be monitored and used by us for reasons of security and for monitoring of compliance with office policy. Email monitoring or blocking software may also be used. Please be aware that you have a responsibility to ensure that any email you send to us is within legal boundaries.
People who telephone us
Calls made through our 0300 111 3000 line and direct dial lines are recorded and we use this information to help improve our efficiency and effectiveness, and for training purposes.
Security and performance
The HOS uses a third party service to help maintain the security and performance of the HOS website. To deliver this service it processes the IP addresses of visitors to the HOS website.
Job applicants, current and former employees
When individuals apply to work at the Housing Ombudsman Service we will only use the information they supply to us to process their application and to monitor recruitment statistics. Where we want to disclose information to a third party, for example where we want to take up a reference or obtain a -disclosure-’ from the Disclosure and Barring Service, we will not do so without informing them beforehand unless the disclosure is required by law.
Personal information about unsuccessful candidates is held for 12 months after the recruitment exercise has been completed. It is then destroyed or deleted. We retain de-personalised statistical information about applicants to help inform our recruitment activities, but no individuals are identifiable from that data.
Once a person has taken up employment with the HOS, we compile a file relating to their employment. The information contained in this is kept secure and is only used for purposes directly relevant to that person’s employment. Once employment with the HOS has ended, we retain the file in accordance with the requirements of our retention schedule and then delete it.
Complaints or queries
The HOS tries to meet the highest standards when collecting and using personal information. For this reason, we take any complaints we receive about this very seriously. We encourage people to bring it to our attention if they think that our collection or use of information is unfair, misleading or inappropriate. We would also welcome any suggestions for improving our procedures.
This privacy notice was drafted with brevity and clarity in mind. It does not provide exhaustive detail of all aspects of HOS’s collection and use of personal information. However, we are happy to provide any additional information or explanation needed. Any requests for this should be sent to the address below.
Marketing and customer satisfaction surveys
We do not share your information with any third-party marketing companies.
We may, however, share your name and telephone number with our reception service that carries out customer feedback for us.
If you would prefer not to take part in the survey, let us know by phoning 0300 3000 111 or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Access to personal information
HOS tries to be as open as it can be in terms of giving people access to their personal information. Individuals can find out if we hold any personal information by making a ‘subject access request’ under the Data Protection Act 1998. If we do hold information about you, we will:
- give you a description of it;
- tell you why we are holding it; and
- let you have a copy of the information in an intelligible form.
To make a request to the HOS for any personal information we may hold you need to put the request in writing to the address provided below.
If we do hold information about you, you can ask us to correct any mistakes by, contacting the Data Protection Officer at the address below.
Disclosure of personal information
In many circumstances we will not disclose personal data without consent. However, when we investigate a complaint, for example, we will need to share personal information with the organisation concerned and with other relevant bodies.
The Localism Act 2011 introduced changes to the jurisdiction of the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) and the HOS. Consequently, a level of cooperation is required. A Memorandum of Understanding has been drawn up jointly by the LGO and the HOS as the basis for such cooperation.
Links to other websites
This privacy notice does not cover the links within this site linking to other websites. We encourage you to read the privacy statements on the other websites you visit
Changes to this privacy notice
We keep our privacy notice under regular review. The next review will be 20 January 2018.
How to contact us
Data Protection Officer
Housing Ombudsman Service
Harbour Exchange Square
Telephone: 0300 111 3000 (lines are open Monday to Friday from 9:15 to 17:15)
Fax: 020 7831 1942