The housing complaints process

We recognise that we do not always get things right and will listen to you if you are not happy with an aspect of our service.

We consider a complaint to be "an expression of dissatisfaction with the standard of service or with an action or lack of action by our staff or contractors".

You can complain if:

  • We have not done something we should have done
  • We have done something badly or in the wrong way
  • You think you have been treated unfairly or impolitely

What we don't treat as a complaint

  • An initial request for a service (for example a repair) or to report a problem (for example anti-social behaviour)
  • A request for information or an explanation of our policy or procedures
  • Issues that are the responsibility of another organisation (for example street lighting).

Aggressive or Obsessive Complaints

We try to deal fairly and honestly with all complaints, whilst making sure that other service users or officers do not suffer harm from someone making aggressive and/or obsessive complaints.

We consider an aggressive or obsessive complaint to be where:

  • The same matter is referred to us, which has already been considered at all stages of our complaints process and also been investigated and concluded by the Ombudsman.
  • The complaint and issues around it result in unreasonable amounts of communication and contact.
  • The subject of the complaint is regular, repeated and/or trivial in nature
  • A complainant behaves in an aggressive and/or unreasonable way, for example by using bad, discriminatory, or defamatory language.

Where we consider that a complaint is aggressive or obsessive we will not investigate it any further. Where this is the case we will inform you in writing.

How our complaints process works

If you are not happy with an aspect of our service, please try first to settle this with the employee you are dealing with. Our front line employees are often best placed to resolve issues without the need for more formal action. If you are still not satisfied, you can ask for the matter to be dealt with as a formal complaint.

There are two stages to our formal complaints process.

Stage One

We will:

  • Pass your complaint to an appropriate officer to investigate, who is not the employee you originally dealt with
  • Acknowledge your complaint in writing within three working days
  • Write a full response within ten working days if the problem cannot be resolved more quickly
  • Update you at least every 15 working days regarding progress if the problem is complex.

If you are still not satisfied with how the matter has been dealt with, you can ask for your complaint to be considered at stage two.

Stage Two

We will:

  • Pass your complaint to a Head of Service for them to consider
  • Acknowledge your request to have your complaint considered at this stage within three working days
  • Write to you with a full response within ten working days.
  • Update you at least every 15 days regarding progress if the matter cannot be resolved sooner.

Putting things right

If we find a failure in our service, we will consider the best way to put things right. The remedy will depend on the type of complaint. For example, a remedy may be in the form of a written apology, or to put faulty work right. In certain cases, some form of goodwill gesture might be appropriate. This could be to replace items that have been damaged, for instance.

In all cases, we aim to learn from any mistakes made to make sure they do not happen again. If we make a change to a service as a result of your complaint we will tell you.

Who else can you speak to?

Ward Councillors: You can take your complaint to your local councillor at any time. Visit the Councillor pages to find out who your local councillors are.

The Ombudsman: If you have followed all the steps of the council's process and are still not satisfied, you can refer your complaint to the Ombudsman. This is an independent body that can look into your complaint. The Ombudsman will only look into your complaint if you have given us a chance to deal with it first.

The Tenants' Panel: A representative from the Tenants' Panel can act as a 'Designated Person' on your behalf and ask for your complaint to be reviewed if they feel it has not been investigated or answered satisfactorily. Please note, that it is entirely at the discretion of the Designated Person/s to decide whether or not to handle your complaint.

Confidentiality

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council treats all complaints confidentially, and will handle all information sensitively, in accordance with Data Protection guidelines.

Fair Process

We aim to handle all complaints fairly but if you think we have treated your complaint unfairly, please contact us to discuss your complaint further.

Diversity monitoring

To help us design services to meet our customers' needs, and make sure that everyone has fair and equal access to our services, we will ask you to complete some diversity monitoring information when making a complaint. The information you give us will be treated in the strictest confidence. It will only be used to monitor our services and will not be passed to other organisations.

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