05 Oct 2020

The Housing Ombudsman has issued a report containing almost 40 recommendations for dealing with complaints from leaseholders and shared owners.

The report, which can be viewed here, also identified the 12 landlords – six housing associations and six councils – with the highest number of maladministration findings (including partial maladministration and severe maladministration).

The six local authorities, all London boroughs, were:

  • Southwark Council (13 maladministration findings; 33 determinations; uphold rate 39%)
  • Hammersmith and Fulham Council (12; 16; 75%)
  • Lambeth Council (9; 14; 64%)
  • Westminster Council (8; 14; 57%)
  • Haringey Council (6; 14; 43%)
  • Camden Council (6; 18; 33%)

The six housing associations were:

  • Clarion Group (18; 36; 50%)
  • A2 Dominion Group (18; 25; 72%)
  • Notting Hill Genesis Group (16; 37; 43%)
  • Peabody Group (15; 39; 38%)
  • L&Q Group (8; 31; 26%)
  • Orbit Group (8; 18; 44%)

The Ombudsman compiled the report, A new lease of life: Spotlight on leasehold, shared ownership and new builds, after handling almost 2,000 complaints from leaseholders and shared owners over the last two years.

These resulted in more than 800 formal investigations with redress required in some form in just over half of the cases investigated, it said.

Complaint handling was found to be the area of most consistent concern where maladministration (including partial maladministration) was found in 72% of cases.

This was double the Ombudsman’s average uphold rate. Key issues identified were difficulties getting through the complaints procedure, delays and periods of inaction.  

The report is intended to provide learning points on complaint handling plus three other areas – repairs, estate management and charges – where maladministration or partial maladministration are found most often. It also looks at staircasing and issues related to cladding and building safety, areas where the Ombudsman said it had now received several complaints.

The report contains case studies demonstrating the real-life experiences of residents. 

The Ombudsman called on landlords “to improve lease agreements at the outset, strengthen systems and improve approaches to capturing and sharing knowledge and information within their organisations”.

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “The continued growth of home ownership through social landlords makes it timely to publish this report providing learning that is relevant throughout organisations.

“It is sometimes overlooked that we deal with cases brought by homeowners whose lease is with a member of our Scheme. Around one in five of our decisions follows a complaint from a leaseholder or shared owner.

“The lessons drawn from the cases are practical and common sense, covering different aspects of the customer’s journey, from initial purchase to staircasing, estate works and service charges. In particular we would encourage sector collaboration to find solutions to some common issues.”

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