In February 2021, the Housing Ombudsman published a “spotlight on complaints about heating, hot water and energy in social housing” report. The report focuses on the areas where complaints commonly arise, and maladministration has been found most often.
The Housing Ombudsman and Energy Ombudsman are liaising to explain their jurisdictions to ensure that residents receive clear information and are signposted to the right Ombudsman if they wish to complain. Complaint handling and heat networks are two areas where the Housing Ombudsman is seeing particularly high maladministration – in the region of 60%.
Landlords need to be aiming for a “right first time” approach and should implement end-to-end ownership of complaint management. Landlords should be prompt with responding to urgent matters, especially when it involves a potentially vulnerable household, and should provide clear communication and record keeping from the earliest point possible, through till the end.
Where contractors work on behalf of the landlord, the accountability sits with the landlord and therefore the contract agreements should include penalties to avoid aborted jobs through wrong tools, parts, skills etc.
Landlords should ensure that all staff members who manage complaints are upskilled, where necessary, and that everyone understands internal complaints handling procedures, compensation policies and any vulnerable household guidelines.
Landlords should work with residents to help them enhance their energy efficiency knowledge, and to also signpost any services that could potentially benefit them.
If you would like to know more about the heat network, complaint handling, energy efficiency and innovation recommendations advised by the Housing Ombudsman, or if you would like heat network management support in general, get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.