Social housing TENANTS can be compensated by thousands of pounds for problems like leaks and broken elevators – but many are not aware of their rights.
There are basic rules that homeowners must follow, including carrying out repairs and ensuring a hot water and energy supply.
But some landlords have no tenants, leaving them in poor quality homes.
If you are renting privately and your landlord refuses to fix the problem, you should report it to the council.
But if you are a social tenant, you should complain to the Housing Ombudsman.
The Housing Ombudsman makes the final decision on disputes between residents and member landlords.
Membership is required for social landlords – mainly local government landlords and housing associations.
But some private landlords are voluntary members.
Its decisions are independent and impartial and the service is free to use.
You may be entitled to compensation if your landlord does not carry out the repair work within a reasonable time.
The amount you will receive will depend on the severity of the problem, how long it took, and other circumstances, such as the vulnerability of the residents.
But you could get thousands of pounds in compensation.
For example, a young mother of three managed to get £3,000 compensation after her landlord was unable to fix her moldy home.
While another parent was awarded £5,500 after her home was invaded by wall slugs.
We spoke with Housing Ombudsman Richard Blakeway to find out your social housing rights – and how to file a complaint.
Right to repair
Social housing owners must make repairs within a certain period of time.
This doesn’t differ from homeowner to homeowner, but most repairs fall into the following categories:
- Urgent – to be seen within hours.
- Urgent – up to three to five days
- Routine – this may take a little longer and often varies from home to landlord
For example, a small leak will appear within three days, while a large leak will appear within a few hours.
Landlords must be clear with residents about these times, so they can be held accountable if they don’t respond.
“We are seeing increasing reports of social housing deterioration with problems not being remedied or residents experiencing excessive delays,” said Richard.
“It is important for residents to know that the Ombudsman can investigate and get things right.”
Problems with neighbors or antisocial behavior can be some of the hardest to deal with.
Many social housing residents may not know that their landlord should address these issues.
The landlord then has the right to bring in third parties such as the police to help.
“Noise disputes can be complex and lengthy, and the Ombudsman can investigate to see if landlords are taking residents’ concerns seriously and acting fairly,” said Richard.
Fees are the services the resident receives under the rental agreement.
This can include a variety of things like cleaning common spaces, replacing broken lights, as well as maintaining key lifts and door entrances.
“It’s important that residents get the service they pay for and have a clear understanding of what they’re being charged for,” says Richard.
“If that doesn’t happen, the Ombudsman can step in and then the court can decide how accurate it should be.”
Homeowners must work with energy suppliers to ensure a reliable supply of hot water and heating for residents.
Richard said the Housing Ombudsman can investigate cases where this is not the case.
“We can make sure homeowners are accountable for their role alongside the energy supplier,” he said.
The Ombudsman said it has seen a significant increase in hot water and heating use cases, with 1,600 complaints received in 2021/22 and 1,491 claims received through February this year.
real estate management
Property management includes things like cleaning and repairing common areas, boundary issues, campus maintenance, parking, and the common use of common areas.
If you don’t feel like your living environment is particularly well kept, you should consult your tenancy or tenancy agreement first to find out who is responsible for the matter.
If it’s the landlord’s responsibility, you should contact them to report the problem.
The lease should also set a time period for you to get a response.
You should keep a record of any communication, in writing or by phone, that you have with your landlord.
If you do not receive a response, you can make a formal complaint or contact the Housing Ombudsman.
“Residents raise issues around cleanliness, maintenance and common spaces, and we can ensure that residents feel their property is well maintained,” says Richard. This includes looking at pests inside the building as well as the wider grounds.”
“Homeowners are obligated to keep these spaces well-maintained and clean, so it’s a good idea to visit these areas regularly to make sure they’re up to standard.”
How to Complain to the Housing Ombudsman
Before filing a complaint with the Housing Ombudsman, you must first let the landlord know that something is wrong.
If you are not satisfied with the way the landlord has responded to the matter, you should make a formal complaint.
Your landlord should respond to a formal complaint in writing.
If you do not receive a response to your formal complaint, you may send the inspector a copy of the letter, who then has the right to request a response from the landlord.
If you are not satisfied after completing all stages of the formal landlord complaint process, you may submit your complaint to the ombudsman.
Once a complaint is received, it will be reviewed and evaluated.
But if you want the complaint investigated, you must submit it within 12 months of the landlord’s final response.
Once the matter has been investigated, the ombudsman will make his findings – known as a decision.
This process varies from case to case.
Any compensation is included in the decision, but this will vary depending on the circumstances of each case.
Meanwhile, if you are a private tenant, here are seven rules your landlord MUST follow.
Plus, thousands of tenants could get a 12-month refund – are you eligible?
Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org