Complaints Policy

Introduction

Nobody’s perfect, we all make mistakes.

We help thousands of our customers every month. Over 80% of customers are happy with what we do. However, every so often we don’t get things right and make customers or other members of the public unhappy.  We know we’re not perfect, that’s why we have a complaints policy. There are always things we can’t anticipate, but whenever things don’t go as expected, we’ll do everything possible to:

  • listen
  • explain
  • put things right, quickly
  • do what we say we’ll do
  • understand how we can do things better next time
  • improve where we need to

This policy has been created in line with best practice set out by the Housing Ombudsman. It sets out how we identify, investigate, resolve, close and learn from complaints and is supported by a staff guide.

Exclusions

To ensure clarity for both mhs staff members, and complainants, we have set out below the definitions of a complaint, as well as what would constitute as a service request.

This policy does not apply to:

  • Complaints against an individual staff member. These will be handled in line with our staff complaints process
  • Neighbourly disputes (including noise nuisance, drug-related activity or dog fouling), or issues between mhs homes’ residents*. These will be handled in line with our Anti-Social Behaviour policy.

* Except where you have informed us of anti-social behaviour, and are not happy with how your case has been handled, or feel we haven’t followed our anti-social behaviour policy

Discretion

mhs homes reserves the right to use discretion when applying this policy and may deal with a complaint differently where individual circumstances merit it. Any discretion will be applied fairly and appropriately, and all complaints will be progressed as far as possible to maximise the opportunity to resolve a dispute.

Policy

Identify

Complaints come in all shapes and sizes and can be received in all sorts of ways.  We welcome complaints as a learning and transformational opportunity, and accept complaints from everyone, be that current or former customers, or members of the public.  

This policy defines a complaint to be when a current or former customer, or member of the public:

  • Haven't had the experience they would expect
  • Feels we have done something wrong
  • Is unhappy with a policy or service we provide

A service request, and therefore not applicable to this policy, is defined as:

A requirement for a service to be provided, e.g. a new repair is required that we’ve not previously been informed of.

If a customer or member of the public isn’t happy with what we do they can let us know in whatever way they choose. The sooner the better as we can’t investigate a complaint after 12 months. They could report their complaint through My Account (customers), our website (members of the public), give us a call, drop us an email, pop in and see us, send us a tweet or put pen to paper and post us a letter – no matter how a complainant lets us know; we’ll deal with it.

They’ll be taken seriously and sorted out quickly, where possible, by our frontline staff.

Sometimes we can apologise and put things right straight away but in other instances we may need to pass a complaint to be looked at by a complaint investigator.

If the complaint requires an investigation, it will be formally acknowledged within 1 working day.

We will only investigate issues that are raised with us at the beginning of a complaint. If further issues occur through the time period of a complaint investigation that are not related to the original subject matter of the complaint, these will not be considered in this investigation and the complainant will need to raise a new complaint.

Investigate

If we can’t put a complaint right straight away, then we will allocate a complaint investigator, who will work closely with the complainant to ensure that they really understand the cause of the complaint. The investigator will be the complainant’s single point of contact. Complainants are not able to choose who they would like to investigate their complaint, but we will make sure all complaints are allocated fairly.

They’ll continue to keep the complainant in the loop by letting them know exactly what they need to look into in order to resolve the complaint and agree with the complainant a fair date of resolution.

If the issue is complicated, the complaint investigator will get support from an appropriate staff member and any delay will be explained so complainants are kept informed of progress. A customer can view the progress of their complaint, and the agreed resolution date in My Account. Anyone who doesn’t have My Account can request an update through their Complaint Investigator. If additional time is required to ensure the complaint is thoroughly and fairly investigated, a further date of resolution will be agreed with the complainant. Any changes to agreed resolution dates will be subject to quality monitoring by the Customer Experience Team to ensure complaints are being handled effectively and fairly.

Resolve

If there’s evidence that something’s gone wrong, we’ll offer:

  • a meaningful apology
  • an explanation
  • money if someone’s been left out of pocket
  • A goodwill gesture if deemed necessary
  • an idea of what we’ve learnt & what we want to improve

If we need to do something to put things right, we will agree with the complainant what needs to be done and when it will be done by. The complaint investigator will keep an eye on it to make sure it gets actioned.

Closure

A complaint may be closed for a number of reasons. These include:

  • A resolution has been agreed with the complainant, and all required actions have been completed
  • No further contact has been received from the complainant after 10 working days from the complaint being raised, despite attempted contact by the complaint investigator (unless we have been made aware of a potential delay by the complainant)
  • No further contact has been received from the complainant after 20 working days from the last response, despite attempted contact by the complaint investigator (unless we have been made aware of a potential delay to responding)

Appeal

Sometimes a complainant might feel we’ve not properly investigated their complaint in line with our policy. The complainant can also appeal the outcome of their complaint.

If a complainant wishes to make an appeal, they must do so in writing, to complaints@mhs.org.uk. In this appeal request, the complainant must make clear what aspect of the investigation they are not happy with or, if applicable, why they disagree with the outcome, and what more they feel we should do to put it right.  We can only accept appeals for complaints within 1 calendar month of a complaint being closed. Any appeals will be acknowledged within 2 working days.  

An independent member of staff will be allocated to conduct the appeal. They will speak to the complainant to make sure they understand what they’re unhappy with, explain what they need to do and a date they’ll have this done by. Then they’ll check this policy has been followed and let the customer know if any further action is needed. They will also check the quality and detail of the investigation. If the outcome of a complaint is overruled, the complainant will be informed of this in writing.

If the customer still feels we haven’t followed our policies, they can refer the complaint to their MP, local councillor or the Housing Ombudsman.

Learn

We’ll get insight from what we learn through complaints and customer feedback, transform it into useful information, and then share it with appropriate teams to help them make better decisions regarding our services and offer to customers. We may also survey complainants to find out how they felt their complaint was handled. If the complainant is not willing to be involved in our surveys, they can let us know by emailing complaints@mhs.org.uk. All information gathered through complaints and surveys is used anonymously to drive service improvements through our organisation.

Managing unreasonable complainant behaviour

We commit to all complaints being investigated fairly, honestly, consistently and appropriately, in line with this policy. However, in a minority of cases people pursue their complaints in a way which can delay and prolong the investigation of their complaint and absorb a disproportionate amount of staff time. In such circumstances, we may choose to apply our managing unreasonable complainant behaviour policy to a complainant.

Principles

Equality statement

mhs homes has a duty to ensure that no person receives less favourable treatment from the organisation on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage, civil partnership, pregnancy, religion or belief, race, sex or sexual orientation.

Data protection

mhs homes will only share information that meets the requirements of the Data Protection Act 2018.  Confidentiality and impartiality will be exercised by mhs homes at all times.

Feedback

We welcome suggestions and comments from people who use or provide our services. We believe that this can provide some important lessons to help us ensure that the service is improved for everyone.

If you have something to say about this policy or the information that is provided about them, then please let us know. Please refer any comments to the author of this document.

Approved by Leadership Team
Date approved June 2020
Implementation date June 2020
Review date June 2022
Author Rebecca Taylor