Antony Jones is Vice Chair of our Community Gateway Group; a group of resident representatives who make decisions about your homes and housing service. He recently attended an event by TPAS (leaders in tenant engagement) to look at how housing associations across the country deal with your complaints and why we are “leading the way”:
“Following the Grenfell fire and the resulting Social Housing Green Paper, there is now a very big push for organisations like Greenfields to advertise widely about how to make a complaint. This includes making it clear that if people still aren’t happy after doing so, it doesn’t have to end there, and they can go further i.e. designated person and ombudsman.
I have always had a passion for good customer service, having been the victim of bad service too many times. I told my Neighbourhood Manager that I would like to join Greenfields’ Complaints Panel and he suggested I go on this course as part of my training.
On 11 March I attended ‘A practical guide to complaints’ in Devon, which was led by two representatives from the Housing Ombudsman and attended by around 25 residents from across the country.
I learnt a great deal as to why complaints escalate and how the Ombudsman expects landlords to deal with them. I also learnt a lot around the aspect of being reasonable, fair and clear.
It’s fair to say other people in the group had issues with their landlords and a few of them sat on tenant complaint panels. They were a little shocked to hear Greenfields only has two steps in our Complaints Policy but, I think won them around by asking: “why should we, as tenants, be expected to jump through so many hoops before we can take an issue outside of the organisation?”
I also explained that Greenfields works to resolve complaints vigorously in the first stage, and that complaints being taken to a Complaints Panel are very rare. I really feel that we’re leading the way.
It was interesting to learn how the ombudsman works in relation to complaints and the process for them. There were a couple of example complaints given and the ombudsman explained why they found in favour of the parties they did. A lot of the time they find on the side of one party because of paperwork (including emails) and or the lack of it.
For example, one resident was told verbally by a member of staff that they were entitled to a downsizing payment, but the policy said otherwise. The complaint would have been successful if what the staff member said was in writing.
The main thing I took away is that you can make a complaint without being penalised for doing so. If you don’t like the first answer, it doesn’t have to be the end of the road.
I recommend signing up to the TPAS newsletter, which any resident could do. They send out lots of information about what they do, industry news, and training courses available, both to attend and do online.”
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