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Housing Ombudsman sees surge in enquiries and complaints

The Housing Ombudsman saw a 73% increase in the number of enquiries and complaints received in January to March 2021 compared to the same quarter in 2020.

In its latest Insight report the Ombudsman said that in March 2020 the number had declined due to the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown coming into force but had gradually increased over the year and then exceeded the previous year.

The service received 6,010 enquiries and complaints between January and March 2021 compared to 3,482 for the same quarter in the previous year.

The Ombudsman added that comparisons for March alone showed an increase from 960 in 2020 to 2,447 in 2021. In addition, the number of decisions on cases in its formal remit increased from 505 to 640 over the same two quarters.

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It is the second of the Ombudsman’s Insight reports with a regional focus, this time covering the East Midlands, West Midlands, and East of England.

The case studies in this report highlight a range of findings including where landlords had responded effectively as well as where the Ombudsman had found failings. Some showed landlords responding to issues during the Covid-19 pandemic including one related to a report about noise nuisance where the Ombudsman found the landlord had taken reasonable steps to investigate the allegations and seek corroborative evidence in line with its policy. Another concerned delays in dealing with a complaint about damp and mould which the Ombudsman found could not all be attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “Demand for our service is clearly increasing which we expect to continue this year. This reinforces the need for landlords to use the good practice set out in our Complaint Handling Code, so they can respond to complaints fairly and effectively.

“A number of cases highlighted in this report concern the challenging period during the Covid-19 pandemic, and I hope the case studies and the lessons identified in this report provide useful learning for the sector.”

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