The housing data specialist, Housemark, has found that housing providers are still reporting low complaint volumes

New data from Housemark has suggested that many English social housing providers are not ready for the start of the Housing Ombudsman Service’s new complaint handling code, which became a legal requirement on 1 April.

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Data from Housemark’s monthly pulse survey, which highlights sector trends, found that in 2022/23, English landlords received an average of 41.6 stage one and two complaints per 1,000 properties.

Over the same period, Scottish landlords received 64.6 complaints per 1,000 properties.

Analysis of the data suggests that Scottish landlords have a more established culture of recording and listening to complainants, which is why their complaint handling figures are higher.

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According to the survey, this means that a landlord with 10,000 properties in Scotland records and deals with 230 more complaints in a year than its counterparts in England.

Housemark is jointly owned by the National Housing Federation and the Chartered Institute of Housing and publishes surveys based on data from 177 of its housing provider members.

Emma Ratcliffe, research analyst at Housemark, said: “Were all English landlords to be ready to comply with the Housing Ombudsman’s new Complaint Handling Code, we would expect to see higher and more consistent complaint volumes being recorded through our data”.

Ratcliffe added: “Landlords reporting low complaint volumes are often categorising some complaints as ‘informal’. The new Housing Ombudsman code suggests they should not be doing this – it sets out a universal definition for what constitutes a complaint.”

The updated complaint handling code of the Housing Ombudsman Service (HOS) came into effect in April 2022. The code outlines best practices for landlords to address complaints raised by tenants in an effective and fair manner.

The Housing Ombudsman will now monitor compliance with the complaint handling code in accordance with the Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023, now making it a legal requirement.

Housemark’s data for February found that void re-let times are at their highest in 12 months, hitting an average of 45.5 days.

While vacancy rates have remained below 0.55%, the issue of long-term voids persists.

The data shows that landlords reporting longer average re-let times are more likely to have higher vacancy rates, suggesting that the effort in bringing long-term voids back into occupation can take resources away from other, recently vacated properties.

In February 2024, median staff turnover dropped below 0.8% from a high of more than 1% in September last year, the lowest since Housemark began recording the figure in April 2023.

Analysis of average monthly turnover by location shows that London-based landlords continue a long-term trend of higher staff turnover compared to other parts of the UK.