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Complaint Policy

Introduction

The day to day management of the Trust’s properties is carried out by its appointed Managing Agent, who will work to and comply with the provisions contained in this policy.

Selby & District Housing Trust is committed to customer service. We believe that the needs of our customers are our top priority and we are committed to putting our customers first by improving the quality of our services and our customers’ experience of them.

As part of our drive for better services, we value the part complaints play in helping us make improvements to our services.

This policy sets out what we define as a ‘complaint’, how you can make a complaint and how we manage and respond to complaints.

What is a complaint?

Our definition of a complaint is:

‘An expression of dissatisfaction, however made, about the standard of service, actions or lack of action by the Trust, or a body acting on behalf of the Trust, affecting individual customers or groups of customers’.

We will normally only accept complaints about issues within the last 12 months, although exceptional circumstances will be considered.

What is not a complaint?

Our complaints procedure does not cover the following:

  • Requests for a service
  • Requests for information
  • Requests for an explanation of a decision made in line with the Trust’s policy
  • Provision of information about an issue or problem
  • Complaints where legal action is intended or underway; complaints will be suspended if legal action starts during the complaint investigation
  • Insurance claims
  • Any complaint where an appeals process already exists.

How do I make a complaint?

If you are not happy with a service you have received from us or the way you have been treated, we want you to tell us so that we can where possible find a satisfactory resolution.

There are a number of ways you can make a complaint to us:

  • By phoning our appointed Managing Agents (Selby District Council) Customer Contact Centre on 01757 705101
  • Online by completing our Managing Agent’s form.
  • Email us at complaints@selby.gov.uk
  • In person at Selby District Council’s Customer Contact Centre
  • By letter to Complaints Department, Selby District Council, Civic Centre, Doncaster Road, Selby YO8 9FT
  • Ask a friend, a relative or advocate to contact us on your behalf.

Our Managing Agents (Selby District Council), will normally be the first port of call for you and they will usually manage your complaint on our behalf. However, it is important that the Trust is aware that you have made a complaint, so please make it clear in all cases that you are a Selby & District Housing Trust customer.

Make sure you give us as much information as possible. Let us know what you think has gone wrong and how you think we can correct it.

How will we deal with your complaint?

Our complaints process takes a two stage approach, as set out by the flow chart in Appendix 1 (below).

At Stage 1, upon receipt of your complaint, a front line member of staff will look at whether it can be resolved for you quickly without the need for an investigation. If we cannot resolve your complaint at the first point of contact we will pass it to the relevant service area where it will be investigated by the lead officer for that service. At this investigation stage, we will acknowledge your complaint in writing within 5 working days and inform you of the outcome within 20 working days. If you are not happy with the outcome of your complaint, you can escalate it to Stage 2.

Please note that you will have 28 working days from the date we responded with the outcome of your complaint to escalate it to Stage 2, although exceptional circumstances will be considered.

Stage 2 complaints must be set out in writing (letter, email or on a Complaint form). A Trust Officer will consider whether the complaint has been dealt with correctly at Stage 1, looking at details of the case, the procedure followed and the decision made. We will acknowledge your complaint in writing within 5 working days and inform you of the outcome within 20 working days. If you are still dissatisfied with the outcome you can refer your complaint to the Housing Ombudsman Service (HOS). See below for further details.

Please note that all acknowledgement and response times stated begin from the first working day after receipt of the complaint.

Our acknowledgement letter will indicate who is dealing with the complaint and the date by which you can expect a response.

Should it be required, the investigating officer may contact you for further information to assist in their investigation. If, for some exceptional reason, we cannot meet the 20 working day deadline for responding to your complaint, we will send a holding response to you. This will state who is dealing with the complaint, a revised date when a response can be sent and give an explanation as to the cause of the delay.

Wherever possible the confidentiality of any individual making a complaint will be respected. Should the investigation of any complaint make it impossible to protect the complainant in order to properly clarify the facts, the complainant will be advised of this and asked whether or not they still wished their complaint to proceed.

What if I am unhappy about the Trust’s response to my complaint?

If after the stage 2 review you are still not satisfied with our response, you can make a complaint to the Housing Ombudsman Service (HOS). This is an independent body which investigates complaints about housing providers.

When a complaint reaches the HOS, they will decide if it is appropriate for them to consider the complaint. They will normally only consider investigating a case if the complainant has already been through our complaints process.

Contact Details for the Housing Ombudsman Service are as follows:

Tel: 0300 111 3000

Email: info@housing-ombudsman.org.uk

Housing Ombudsman Service

P.O. Box 152

Liverpool

L33 7WQ

Dealing with repeated and/or vexatious complaints

We are committed to dealing with complaints fairly and impartially, and to providing a high quality service to those who make them. However, there are occasions when contact from a complainant becomes too frequent or complex that it hinders our consideration of their complaints, or those made by other people. We refer to such complaints as either repeated or vexatious, and in some cases we may take action to limit the contact the complainant has with us. Appendix 2 defines what we class as a repeated or vexatious complaint, and the action we take.

Reviewing and monitoring

This policy will be monitored and updated where necessary to take account of changes in legislation and best practice. A review of the policy will be scheduled for 2 years from its initial introduction and thereafter as determined by the Board in accordance with best practice and Housing Ombudsman guidance.

We will report our performance on dealing with complaints at our Board Meetings. To help us to deliver great value, we will record performance against the following:

  • Total number of complaints received
  • % of complaints responded to in the required timescale
  • % of complaints upheld.

Appendix 1: Our complaints process 

Stage 1 

  • Received by a frontline member of staff – If your complaint can’t be resolved at the first point of contact, it will be passed to the lead officer for the Service. 
  • Received by a lead officer for the service – Your complaint will be acknowledge in writing within 5 working days and we will inform you of the outcome within 20 working days
  •  Outcome – If you are not happy with the outcome of your complaint, you can escalate it to Stage 2 within 28 working days

Stage 2 

At this stage complaints should be set out in writing (letter, email or on a complaint form). 

  •  A Trust Officer will consider the complaint – Your complaint will be acknowledged in writing within 5 working days and we will inform you of the outcome within 20 working days
  • Outcome – If you are still dissatisfied with the outcome from the Trust your complaint can be referred to the Housing Ombudsman

Appendix 2: Repeated and/or vexatious complaints

There are occasions when contact from a complainant becomes too frequent or complex that it hinders our consideration of their complaints, or those made by other people. We refer to such complaints as either repeated or vexatious.

We define the following behaviour as being a repeated or vexatious complaint:

  • Refusing to specify the grounds of a complaint, despite our offer of help
  • Refusing to cooperate with our complaints investigation process
  • Refusing to accept that certain issues are not within the scope of our Complaints Policy
  • Insisting on the complaint being dealt with in ways which are incompatible with our Complaints process
  • Making unjustified complaints about staff who are trying to deal with the issues, and seeking to have them replaced
  • Changing the basis of the complaint as the investigation proceeds
  • Denying or changing statements that the complainant made at an earlier stage
  • Introducing trivial or irrelevant new information at a later stage
  • Raising many detailed but unimportant questions, and insisting that they are all answered
  • Submitting falsified documents for themselves or others
  • Adopting a ‘scatter gun’ approach; pursuing parallel complaints on the same issue with various organisations
  • Making excessive demands on the time and resources of staff with lengthy phone calls, emails to numerous members of staff, or detailed letters every few days, and expecting immediate responses
  • Submitting repeat complaints with minor additions/variations the complainant insists makes these ‘new’ complaints
  • Refusing to accept the decision; repeatedly arguing points with no new evidence.

Before a complainant is classed as repeated or vexatious, the Trust’s Managing Director (or other authorised officer) may call a meeting with the complainant to try to resolve matters. If matters cannot be resolved, one or more of the following actions may be taken:

  • Placing limits on the number and duration of contacts with staff per week or month
  • Offering a restricted time slot for necessary calls
  • Limiting the complainant to one medium of contact (telephone, letter, email etc.)
  • Requiring the complainant to communicate only with one named member of staff
  • Requiring any personal contacts to take place in the presence of a witness and in a suitable locations
  • Refusing to register and process further complaints about the same matter.