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  • Jorden Guest

The Ombudsman's Report: Key Findings on the Rising Tide of Social Housing Complaints

The social housing sector in England has experienced a significant increase in serious failures and delays by landlords, according to the Housing Ombudsman. In the past year, there were 5,109 complaints that were escalated for formal investigation, marking a 28% increase compared to the previous year and setting a record high.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove has emphasised that these findings should serve as a wake-up call for social housing landlords who are failing in their obligations. The rise in complaints can be attributed to various factors, including increased media attention and the inquest into the unfortunate death of Awaab Ishak. Awaab's passing was caused by a respiratory condition due to prolonged exposure to mould in his home. This tragic incident led to outrage and ultimately resulted in the passage of Awaab's Law under the Social Housing Act. This law requires landlords to promptly address reported hazards such as mould or provide safe alternative accommodations to affected tenants.

Among the categories of complaints, property condition remains the leading cause, accounting for 37% of all findings in the past year. Complaints handling and health and safety issues also contribute significantly to the overall complaints. The ombudsman's severe maladministration findings, focusing on cases where landlords have failed in their duties or unreasonably delayed action, have more than quadrupled. Notably, 112 of these findings were attributed to landlords with over 10,000 homes.

The maladministration rates vary between local authorities and housing associations, with local authorities showing a slightly higher rate. Limited resources pose challenges for local authorities, making it difficult to offer reasonable redress, resulting in more maladministration findings. On the other hand, the number of "no maladministration" findings has decreased by 20%.

Regional variations in maladministration rates reveal that London has the highest rate in the country, even when accounting for the significant number of social homes in the capital. The South East, East of England, Midlands, North West, and the North East and Yorkshire follow as regions with comparatively high maladministration rates. In contrast, the South West has the lowest overall maladministration rate among all regions.

In response to these concerning figures, the ombudsman's office has reached out to the chief executives of 91 landlords with a maladministration rate exceeding 50%, urging immediate attention to the issue. Housing Ombudsman Richard Blakeway describes the Annual Complaints Review as providing a unique and informative overview of social housing complaints. He acknowledges the challenges faced by social landlords amidst a housing and cost-of-living crisis but emphasises the significant gap between the services being delivered and the reasonable expectations of residents, especially those with disabilities or mental health needs.

Darren Rodwell, housing spokesperson for the Local Government Association, highlights the dedication of councils in delivering positive outcomes for tenants despite financial constraints. Efforts are being made to improve housing conditions for all residents.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove emphasises the importance of empowering tenants to address issues with bad landlords and seek resolution through the Ombudsman. The Make Things Right campaign has been launched to inform social housing tenants of their rights, while the Social Housing Regulation Act works towards raising industry standards. Additionally, the introduction of Awaab's Law places pressure on social landlords to address damp and mould issues within specific timeframes.

Adding a unique perspective, Vericon Systems can work alongside housing providers to improve the lives of people living in social housing.

Addressing Damp And Mould

Using connected technology to monitor damp and mould can help reduce health risks, prevent property damage, and save you time and money.

Vericon smart sensors are strategically placed throughout the property to continuously monitor temperature, humidity, and air quality. Real-time data collected is analysed by Vericon's advanced analytics platform, which can detect early signs of damp and mould growth. By identifying these issues early on, preventative measures can be taken to avoid expensive repairs and potential health risks. Learn more about our powerful temperature and humidity monitoring.

Our technology enables remote monitoring and management, providing housing providers with real-time visibility into property conditions. This proactive approach to maintenance ensures that potential damp and mould problems are promptly addressed, improving overall living conditions for residents.

Vericon Systems is making a significant impact in tackling damp and mould in social housing in the UK. We now offer our solutions as Managed Services, where our team of experts analyses the data collected by Vericon Systems' devices. The insights provided empower you to make informed decisions from the outset.

Our Managed Services include standardised reports on damp and mould for both business and government reporting requirements. Our AI algorithms constantly analyse anonymised data across the system, leading to continuous improvement in their capabilities. Additionally, we offer a suite of customisable tools and apps to enhance resident happiness and engagement.

To learn more about how Vericon Managed Services can benefit your business, explore our Managed Services page. Alternatively, you can reach out to us directly by calling 01242 582 555 or by messaging Tony Cubitt.

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