Managing Unreasonable Complainant Behaviour

Introduction and aims of this policy

We welcome complaints as a learning and transformational opportunity, and commit to all complaints being investigated fairly, honestly, consistently, and appropriately, in line with our Complaints 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. This can happen either while their complaint is being investigated, or once we have finished dealing with their complaint.

There are three key points which must be understood in line with this policy.

  1. We are committed to dealing with all complaints fairly, comprehensively and in a fair timescale agreed with the customer. We will not, as a standard, limit or apply restrictions to the contact which complainants have with mhs homes staff, where there is no justifiable cause.
  2. Raising legitimate queries or criticisms of a complaint as it progresses, or once it is closed, should not in itself lead to someone being regarded as an unreasonable complainant.
  3. The fact that a complainant is unhappy with the outcome of a complaint and seeks to challenge it, should not in itself cause them to be regarded as an unreasonable complainant. In the case of the complainant being unhappy with the outcome of their complaint, the appeals process detailed within the Complaints Policy must be followed.

This policy sets out the criteria by which a complainant will be treated as unreasonable, and what we will do in those circumstances. The criteria provided below is not exhaustive but is intended to provide a guide to staff on when this policy should be applied. This policy contributes to our overall aim of dealing with all people who complain in ways which are consistent, fair and reasonable. This policy applies to all complainants, whether they are a current or former tenant, or a member of the public.

Where a complainant may act in a manner deemed unreasonable due to an underlying health condition, such as a mental health issue, we will endeavour to engage with support agencies and other 3rd parties, as outlined in the ‘Policy’ section below.

Definitions and Criteria

This policy has been developed in line with best practice guidance provided by the Housing Ombudsman. It will be applied to a complainant who may act or behave in an unreasonable manner. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Unreasonable demands – e.g. requesting large volumes of information*, demanding unreasonable response times, refusing to speak to an individual or insisting on speaking with another
  • Unreasonable persistence – e.g. refusing to accept the answer that has been provided, or the outcome of a complaint after its conclusion, continuing to raise the same issue without providing any new evidence, continuously adding to or changing the subject matter of the complaint, or denying that an adequate response has been given
  • Persistently failing to identify the precise issues they wish to be investigated
  • Persistently concentrating their focus on a trivial matter within a complaint
  • Harassment through continuous and/or excessive contact (by any communication method, including online services, social media, phone, email, text, or in person)
  • Unwillingness to accept documented evidence
  • Recording of filming conversations, either over telephone or in person, without the consent of other parties
  • Verbal abuse, aggression, violence (actual or threatened), derogatory remarks, rudeness and inflammatory allegations
  • Threats to break clauses within their tenancy agreement or lease, such as refusing entry/access for required works, or withholding payments (rents, service charges etc.)

*Notwithstanding a person’s right to make a subject access request, where it is not re-sending duplicate information which has been requested multiple times


Actions & Responses

  • We will ensure that any complaints associated with a person deemed as being unreasonable are being, or have been investigated in line with the Complaints policy
  • Where the complainant raises counter allegations against a staff member, we will investigate these fairly and where relevant in line with our disciplinary policy
  • Before a decision is made to apply this policy to a complainant, we will discuss the situation with the complainant and advise them that this policy could apply to them, and what that could mean
  • The decision to apply this policy to a complainant will be made jointly by the Assistant Director of Customer Services, and the Assistant Director of Transformation & Digital Services. The complainant will be informed of this decision in writing
  • Support will be offered to complainants on a case-by-case basis for those who need additional guidance or advocacy. This includes those whose unreasonable behaviour is as a result of issues such as mental health. Should the complainant have a support worker or is engaging with other 3rd parties/agencies, we will offer to liaise directly with those organisations. Similarly, if the complainant wishes to be represented by a nominated friend or family member, we will offer to liaise directly with the nominated person where appropriate
  • If the complainant is demonstrating behaviour that is considered unreasonable, we may consider a wide range of responses to apply to the complainant. Where we can, we will tell the complainant what action will be taken and why
  • Responses may include any of the following (NB. this list is not exhaustive):
    • Staff ending all direct contact with the customer because of actual or threats of physical violence or verbal abuse
    • Restricting contact with the complainant in order to manage the situation. This may include limiting the types of contact a complainant can have with mhs homes, for example, only accepting correspondence in written form (letter or email)
    • Limiting contact with the complainant to certain times of the day, or to a limited number of times per week / month
    • Only considering a certain number of issues raised by the complainant in a specified period
    • Appointing a named member of staff who will co-ordinate all responses to the complainant
    • Declining to give any further consideration to an issue unless additional evidence or information is provided
  • We will record all incidents of unreasonable behaviour

Continued instances of unreasonable behaviour

  • Should we experience continued instances of unreasonable behaviour from complainants, despite this policy being applied, this is likely to constitute as Anti-Social Behaviour and therefore may be reason for us to begin proceedings to terminate a customer’s tenancy or lease.
  • In extreme cases such as physical violence or harassment towards an employee, actions could include involving the police, taking legal action, and ending all direct contact with the complainant.


  • Any restrictions placed on a complainant will be reviewed after an agreed period. If the complainant’s behaviour is seen to have improved at the point of this review, consideration will be given to lifting the restrictions. A decision to lift the restrictions will be made jointly by the Assistant Director of Customer Services, and the Assistant Director of Transformation & Digital Services. The complainant will be informed of the decision to lift the restrictions in writing.
  • If the behaviour has not improved, the complainant will be informed, in writing, of the reasons why the restrictions remain in force, and a further review date will be agreed


A complainant who has restrictions placed on them is entitled to an appeal of that decision. Should the complainant wish to appeal, they should do so in writing, detailing their reasons for the appeal, no more than 5 working days after being informed of the restrictions. This should be addressed to

Appeals will be reviewed by a relevant group of employees involved with the complainant, with a decision made by the Operations Director.


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.


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.