Complaints to landlords

A brief guide about escalating complaints and getting help from the Housing Ombudsman


If you have reported an issue to your landlord and it hasn’t been sorted or you are unhappy with their response, you have a right to complain to them, and they must respond within fixed timescales.

If the issue remains unresolved, or their final response is unsatisfactory, you can escalate your complaint to the Housing Ombudsman who will investigate.

All registered social landlords must be a member of the Housing Ombudsman Scheme and have signed up to their Complaints Handling Code, which sets out best practice and what landlords must do when dealing with complaints.


How to get an issue sorted

There are three stages to getting an issue sorted:


1. Report

If something has gone wrong, you need to let your landlord know about it. Your landlord should clearly set out different ways to report issues. If you report by phone or in person, it’s worth following this up in writing, and keeping a copy of all correspondence. This will be important if you need to take further action.


2. Complain

If you have reported an issue and it hasn’t been sorted, or you’re not happy with the response, you can complain to your landlord. Your landlord must:

Provide more than one way to make a complaint;

Make the complaint policy available in a clear and accessible format for all residents. The policy must be accessible on the website, along with information about how to make a complaint and how to escalate it.

There are usually two stages to a landlord’s complaints process.

Stage 1 complaint – must be acknowledged and logged within 5 working days of receipt. A response must be issued in 10 working days of the complaint being logged.

Stage 2 complaint – If you are unhappy with the response, you can take the complaint to Stage 2. Landlords must accept a request by the resident, or their representative to escalate the complaint, unless an exclusion applies, which must be set out in the complaints policy. Stage 2 responses must be issued within 20 working days of the complaint being escalated.


3. Escalate

If you have complained to your landlord and remain unsatisfied with their final response you have a right to make a complaint to the Housing Ombudsman Service. This is free to use, impartial and will investigate fairly.

For a complaint to be investigated by the Housing Ombudsman, the complaint must be referred within 12 months from the date of the landlord’s final response. Currently, average response times for the Housing Ombudsman are 4-6 months. Recently the Housing Ombudsman Service has gained greater capacity and powers to enable them to deal more effectively with poor service for tenants.


Useful links

Four Million Homes guidance for residents

Make a complaint to the Housing Ombudsman

Housing Ombudsman Complaint Handling Code

Housing Ombudsman Centre for Learning




Complaints: Know your rights

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