Policy 2018


1.               Introduction

1.1.            JLiving aims to provide an excellent service to all our customers, ensuring that everyone feels both valued and respected. We acknowledge that sometimes things go wrong and when they do our aim is to put things right as soon as possible. We believe that complaints are an excellent opportunity to listen and respond to our tenants and other customers in a proactive way.


1.2.            Whilst our principle customers are our tenants, there are others who may receive a service from us. This policy applies to all tenants and anyone else who receives a service from JLiving, referred to as our customers in this policy.


1.3.            The National Housing Federation defines a complaint as “An expression of dissatisfaction, however made, about the quality of service, actions or lack of actions by the organisation, its contractors or its staff affecting the complainant as an individual or group of individuals, whether justified or not. This includes complaints that may be no more than merely an expression of dissatisfaction.”


1.4.            The aim of this policy is to set out how we will listen, respond and learn from problems and mistakes so that we can improve the services we deliver.


2.               Policy Objectives


2.1.            This policy aims to:

·      Set out a definition of a complaint that can be clearly understood by both customers and staff

·      Take a proactive approach to managing complaints

·      Enable and empower our staff to deal with complaints effectively at the earliest stage in the process

·      Be responsive to the needs of our customers

·      Be open, transparent and easy to understand

·      Reflect current best practice

·      Help us to learn from complaints and shape our services as a result

·      Set out a process for dealing with unreasonable complaints


3.               Policy


3.1.            Our aim is to provide the best standard of service for all our customers and we welcome suggestions, comments and views on how to improve the services we offer.  We recognise that from time to time things go wrong but we believe that most problems can be easily resolved; our aim is to get it right first time so every effort will be made to resolve matters locally at the point of a complaint being made.

3.2.            What is a complaint?
A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction any customer feels about an aspect of our service, policies, actions and decisions.

3.2.1.      A complaint could be when a customer feels:

·      We have failed to adequately respond to their initial request

·      We have been unhelpful or rude

·      We have failed to meet our stated standards or promises

·      We have given unclear, misleading or unsuitable advice

·      We have not complied with our policies or procedures


3.2.2.      A complaint is not a first attempt to request for a service or an enquiry.


3.2.3.      We have special procedures for reporting anti-social behaviour and neighbour nuisance and these will not be dealt with under this complaints policy unless we have failed to deliver to agreed service standards. Neither will initial service charge queries be dealt with under this policy unless we have failed to provide an acceptable service. Similarly, we will not deal with decisions where there is already a right of appeal unless we have not followed our own processes.


3.3.            We will not be able to deal with the following via the complaints process:

·      Any matter which is already being (or has been) dealt with by a solicitor

·      Matters that are being/have been dealt with by our insurers

·      Complaints that have already been through the process or which, in JLiving’s opinion, are being pursued in an unreasonable manner

·      Complaints that fall outside our jurisdiction (e.g. complaints about utilities)


3.4.            Should the complaint be in regards to any agent or contractor acting on behalf of JLiving, for example a contractor or agent we have employed to manage a service, customers may be advised to proceed through the agent’s complaint handling process first before we will consider the matter.

3.5.            When we receive a complaint, we welcome it as an opportunity to improve our relationship with our customers and improve our service. We will not be defensive as our values are to be open, transparent and accountable to our customers. We simply welcome the opportunity to hear where customers feel we have got things wrong and where they feel we need to improve as this helps us shape our service delivery.


3.6.            Because we see complaints as an opportunity rather than threat, staff are encouraged to actively identify complaints. A customer will not have to use the word “complaint” or to ask to “make a complaint”. Staff will record any expression of dissatisfaction as a complaint and respond following our procedure.  With the exception of Stage 3, complaints do not have to be in writing although we will complete a complaint form to ensure there is an audit trail.


3.7.            We will do everything we can to resolve an issue or complaints informally and quickly. We will try to agree a way forward within 3 working days of any initial complaint. If we cannot agree a course of action to resolve the complaint to the customer’s satisfaction within this time then we will generally escalate this to the formal stage of the complaints process.


3.8.            We will train and empower our staff to respond positively to complaints.


3.9.            All complaints and compliments will be recorded to help identify learning outcomes, trends and improvements.


3.10.        We may use external support at any point in the process if deemed necessary.


4.                 Our Complaints Process

We will always try to deal with any query or complaint from a customer in a informal way to quickly identify the issues and seek to resolve them. Therefore, in the first instance all complaints should be directed to the Housing Manager or their Team Leader who will contact the complainant within 3 working days to discuss the matter and find a positive resolution.  However, if an informal approach does not reach a satisfactory resolution, we will seek to address and rectify the issue within our 3 stage formal complaints process.


4.1       Stage 1 Complaint
If a customer’s issue or complaint cannot be resolved informally, we will escalate it to a Stage 1 formal complaint and a Director will speak to the complainant, investigate the matter and respond to the resident with clear actions and timescales to rectify the issue. We will aim to complete this stage within 10 working days but we will keep the complainant informed of any delays. 


4.2       Stage 2 Complaint –Chief Exec Review
             If the customer feels we have not dealt with their complaint within Stage 1, they can request       

for their complaint to be reviewed the Chief Executive.  They must request this review within 10 working days of the Stage 1 outcome letter.  The Chief Exec will then investigate the matter and aim to respond within 15 working days, keeping the complainant informed of any delays.

4.3       Stage 3 Complaint – Panel Review
If the customer feels we have not dealt with their complaint within Stage 2, they can     

formally request for their complaint to be reviewed by a Panel; this request must be in writing and be received within 10 working days of the Stage 2 outcome letter. The panel will normally consist of two or three Board members. We will always try to work with customers to resolve problems without unnecessary delay and therefore in some instances it may be appropriate for the Panel to review the Complaint without the need for a meeting, for example where the complaint itself and/or the outcome sought are relatively straightforward.  In such cases the customer will be notified in writing of the Panel's decision and the reasons for that decision. 


If a Panel Review meeting is necessary, a panel will be convened to hear the customer’s complaint in person; every effort will be made to hold the meeting within 20 working days of the request received.  If the customer wishes to attend but cannot make the date set, the Panel may choose to offer an alternative date within a reasonable timescale that will not result in a lengthy delay. The Review Panel will consider the complaint in the customer’s absence in the event that they fail to attend the arranged meeting.


Note: Board members do not deal with complaints outside of the associations complaints process and when applicable, their allocated role as  panel members, should a tenant direct a complaint to a board member, the complaint will be redirected back to head office to deal with,  within the complaints process.


4.4       Outcomes
             At any stage the complaint may be upheld, partially upheld or not upheld and this will be  

clearly communicated in any outcome letter. At all stages our objective is to find a positive resolution, although there will be times when the customers desired outcome is simply not possible/reasonable.  Complaints that have been upheld will not be escalated unless there is a clear resolution sought by the complainant.


4.5       Closing Complaints
Complaints will be closed if no request for a review has been received by the deadline. Further complaints, even if of a similar nature, will be treated as new complaints unless the complaint is due to the fact we have not completed the agreed actions in the outcome letter. Closed complaints will not be re-opened. 


            The Panel’s decision is final.


4.6       Independent Review

If a complaint is not resolved at the end of our internal complaint process the customer can:

·         Refer the matter to a Designated Person OR

·         Wait 8 weeks and refer the matter directly to the Housing Ombudsman


A Designated Person may be a local Councillor (excluding County or Parish Councillors) or a Member of Parliament.  A designated person does not have any powers but we will work with them positively to find an outcome that is fair and agreed by both parties.  At this stage, we may meet with the designated person; this will be done without the customer present.


For more information about designated persons or the Ombudsman the customer may visit the Ombudsman’s website or telephone them on 0300 111 3000.


4.7       Compensation

We recognise that occasionally we may fail to meet acceptable standards of service which may result in loss, damage or inconvenience to our customers and in these circumstances compensation may be appropriate. 


4.7.1         Compensation may be awarded at any stage of the complaint process if the complaint is upheld; our aim is to put the customer back in the position they would have been if the failure in service delivery had not occurred, without any additional payment.We will usually only consider the payment of compensation where we have failed to deliver our published standards of service or where we have been clearly negligent. 

4.7.2        Any offer of compensation will be made in full and final settlement of the complaint and the customer should be aware that their acceptance of the offer will be considered to be confirmation that the complaint has been resolved to their satisfaction. Any compensation for tenants will be offset against any arrears on their account.

4.8      Unreasonable Complaints

We reserve the right to use refuse to consider or review complaints when a customer’s actions or behaviours are deemed to be unreasonable. We will always try to find a way to work with customers before reaching this stage, but very occasionally we will have to use this clause in order to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff and protect the Associations resources. The following are examples of when this policy might be used in terms of complaints:

·      The customer is using threatening or offensive language or behaviour

·      There is nothing further JLiving can reasonably do to assist

·      The complainant continues to raise the same or a closely related complaint even after the complaint process has been fully exhausted

·      The resources needed to deal effectively with the complaint are disproportionate to the benefit of the outcome sought.

4.8.1     Legal Action

At any stage the Chief Executive or Board may take legal advice and consider the use of injunctions or other legal remedy, if it is assessed that a serial or persistent complainant is causing harassment or is considered to be a threat to staff.

5.                 Monitoring

5.1       A customer complaint is a fantastic opportunity to learn about what or how we need to    

Improve our service. We therefore want to learn from every complaint and to capture and share the things that we learn so that everyone can improve.

5.2      In order to do this we will record and monitor every complaint including details such as what

the complaint was about, how it was resolved, how quickly it was resolved and what we learnt. We will produce an annual summary of lessons learnt and service improvements made.  Performance regarding complaint handling will be reported quarterly to the Board.



6.                Equality and Diversity

6.1      For JLiving, diversity is about respecting people’s individual differences and ensuring that all

people that come into contact with us have access to the same high standards of behaviour and service.

6.2     We are committed to ensuring that no resident will be treated less favourably because of       

their age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex or sexual orientation.

6.3     We will provide customers with any support they need throughout their complaint, this could    

include translating information or providing an interpreter if their first language is not English. We will also communicate with customers in the way that suits them wherever possible.