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Housing Ombudsman sees rise in percentage of complaints relating to tenant behaviour

Complaints about tenant behaviour received by the Housing Ombudsman between April and June this year amounted to 21% of the total compared to 12% for the same period in 2019, it has been revealed.

In its latest Insight report the Ombudsman said repairs complaints remained the largest category but these had reduced from 32% in 2019 to 27% in 2020. Complaints about landlords’ complaint handling also fell from 17% of the total to 7%.

The Ombudsman said that in its engagement with landlords over this period, many had fed back that there had been an increase in reports of anti-social behaviour highlighting increases in reports of noise nuisance, fly-tipping and drug related incidents.

The report also revealed that the overall number of enquiries and complaints received between April and June at 2,212 was a significant reduction of 41% when compared to the same period in 2019 (3,747).

However call volumes in June were 10% higher compared to 2019 and 33% above 2018 levels.

The Ombudsman noted that as restrictions begin to ease, the number of enquiries and complaints it receives is starting to rise.

A greater proportion of enquirers were signposted to Shelter and Citizens’ Advice than usual with call handlers reporting more calls about rent arrears, universal credit and private renting.

The Ombudsman said it recognised that occasionally the behaviour or actions of individuals complaining to a landlord made it difficult for the landlord to deal with their complaint.

Three of the six cases featured in the latest Insight report focus on this issue with a range of findings. “They include a case ruled outside our jurisdiction because of the repeated use of offensive and discriminatory language by the resident. The report also examines two cases – one concerning gas safety – successfully resolved through mediation, a part of the service we are seeking to expand.”

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “This report clearly shows the impact of the Covid-19 restrictions on complaints, and we hope provides some valuable insight on issues and trends.

“Our cases have a particular emphasis on issues about unacceptable behaviour. While cases such as the one highlighted concerning repeated racist and homophobic language are the minority in our experience, it is important for us to demonstrate that it is not acceptable. The report also details recent examples of how we sometimes mediate to resolve cases. We hope that landlords find the report a useful learning tool.”

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