What’ this about?

Tenants and others may sometimes decide to complain to the TMO. Here are some examples of a call that your TMO office staff might receive:

  • Hello, I’d like to complain about my roof. It’s leaking

  • Hello, I’d like to complain about the person living upstairs – she plays her music late and keeps me awake. I’ve asked her to stop, and she was quite rude.

  • Hello, I’d like to complain about your repairs people. They haven’t cleared up the mess they left in my flat.

The first one is someone reporting a repair request, so it will be dealt with in line with the repairs policy. The second one is reporting a possible neighbour dispute, for your housing manager to look into. The third one is a complaint about the service from the TMO itself. This makes it a ‘management complaint.’  It will be dealt with under your complaints policy.

This ‘management complaints’ policy covers any complaints about the quality of your service or the actions of anyone working for the TMO. It also covers any complaints about the decisions or actions of the Board or committee and its members.

Sometimes organisations see complaints as a bad thing, as being about who is to blame for a problem. This would be the wrong approach for your TMO to take. Handling complaints properly means hearing why someone is not satisfied and putting the matter right. Complaints procedures are a way to please tenants and provide an even better service in future. So the right approach is to welcome complaints and help people make them if they wish. Do not use the number of complaints as a measure of poor service – having a low number of complaints may mean that people don’t know how to complain or don’t have confidence their complaints will be considered fairly. Do not deal with complaints as being about blaming someone.   Your complaints procedure will aim to

  • look into why someone is not satisfied, and whether they have a reason to be unhappy

  • put the matter right as quickly as possible

  • give the person who complains a fair way to appeal if they don’t agree with your response

  • examine how the TMO can improve in order to become even better in future

Under the Modular Management Agreement your TMO must have a ‘management complaints policy and procedure’ in line with chapter 7, Schedule 4.

If your TMO is not yet managing homes, it is recommended that you have a simple complaints procedure. This helps ensure that you are in touch with tenants and residents, and builds confidence that you are going about things in the right way. It gives you have a way to understand and put things right, if anyone thinks you are doing something wrong.

The policy and procedure for ‘management complaints’ includes

  • what sort of thing counts as a ‘management complaint’

  • how other types of complaint are dealt with (for instance, using the neighbour disputes policy)

  • who is entitled to complain (residents, and anyone else?)

  • how people make a complaint and how this is recorded: this includes giving help so that people can explain their complaint and put it in writing

  • how complaints are considered, usually including

    • stage 1: the person responsible for providing the service gets a chance to put things right quickly

    • stage 2: if the person making the complaint (’the complainant’) is not satisfied, a senior staff person or Board or committee member considers the matter and tries to put things right

    • stage 3: if still not resolved, the matter is reviewed by an appeals panel with Board or committee members and perhaps independent or landlord representatives

      Note that at stage 2 and 3, staff, officers or members should not consider complaints against themselves – so for instance, if a complaint is about the chair, the chair must not be part of any group that reviews the matter

  • fair procedures at each stage, including a right for the complainant to bring a friend or adviser to a hearing at later stages

  • how personal details are kept confidential

  • how the TMO reviews complaints to see if changes are needed to something like policies, procedures, or training

  • how complaints are monitored. This includes keeping reports on the number of complaints and stages at which they are resolved

As a TMO manages services on behalf of a landlord (a council or a housing association) a tenant may make their complaint to the landlord. You and the landlord will probably want to make sure the two procedures connect with each other, including arranging for the landlord to refer complaints to the TMO, with the complainant’s permission, and a way for the landlord to be involved in appeals. A tenant has a right to take a complaint to a ‘designated person’ inclouding any complaints panel recognised by the landlord, and to the national Housing Ombudsman Service (www.housing-ombudsman.org.uk). The TMO must co-operate with the landlord in supplying any information needed if tenants take complaints to these levels.