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A significant proportion of the enquiries Members receive from constituents concern housing issues. Many are straightforward and can be answered using readily available information on the internet or in standard publications.

Housing Complaints

Local housing authorities and housing associations (registered providers of social housing) have internal complaints procedures. Details can be found on landlords’ websites. As a rule, these procedures should be exhausted before a complaint is taken to the Housing Ombudsman or the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. The latter deals with complaints about homelessness, housing allocations, Housing Benefit and home improvement services.

The Library’s constituency casework pages on How to complain about rented housing (England) and How can homeowners in England resolve housing complaints provide further information.

Handling housing complaints – role of an MP

The Localism Act 2011 introduced a ‘democratic filter’. Tenants who had exhausted their social landlord’s internal complaints procedure could refer certain complaints to the Housing Ombudsman Service for investigation, either: via a “designated person” (an MP, local councillor or designated tenant panel); or eight weeks after the end of their landlord’s internal complaints procedure. Background information is provided in the Library paper: Housing complaints – the role of designated persons.

The Building Safety Act 2022 has removed the democratic filter. From 1 October 2022, once the landlord’s complaints procedure has been exhausted, social tenants will be able to escalate complaints directly to the Housing Ombudsman. This is intended to speed up the complaints process for social tenants.

Taking legal action  

Where a complaint does not resolve a problem, the constituent may need professional legal advice and assistance. The Advicenow website has information on seeking legal aid and assistance. There is also a Library paper: Legal help: where to go and how to pay.

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