Complaint Handling Code Self-Assessment


  1. Compliance with the Complaint Handling Code
  2. Definition of a complaint
  3. Accessibility and awareness
  4. Complaints handling personnel
  5. Complaint handling principles
  6. Putting things right
  7. Continuous learning and improvement
  8. Self-assessment and compliance 

Compliance with the Complaint Handling Code

South Tyneside Homes is committed to being compliant with the Housing Ombudsman Complaint Handling Code. 

The aim of this self-assessment is to assess whether we are compliant and to identify where we can improve. 

All questions were provided by the Housing Ombudsman. 

Read our HOS Self Assessment 2023.

Definition of a complaint

Does the complaints process use the following definition of a complaint?

A complaint must be defined as:

'an expression of dissatisfaction, however made, about the standard of service, actions or lack of action by the organisation, its own staff, or those acting on its behalf, affecting an individual resident or group of residents.'

Our response: Yes

Evidence: We started using the Housing Ombudsman definition of a complaint in February 2021. It is written into our policy.

Does the resident have to use the word 'complaint' for it to be treated as such?

Our response: No

Evidence: All complaints training provided to staff reiterates that the word 'complaint' does not have to be used in order for a customer to submit a complaint.

When we do not accept a complaint, are these circumstances fair and reasonable? 

Our response: Yes

Evidence: We rarely refuse to accept a complaint, if there is any doubt we err on the side of logging it as a complaint.

If we do not accept a complaint, do we provide a detailed explanation why?

Our response: Yes

Evidence: If a complaint is not accepted, a written response letter is provided detailing why and with contact details for HOS.

Accessibility and awareness

Do we provide multiple clear and accessible channels through which a resident can complain? 

Our response: Yes

Evidence: We use multiple channels and encourage third party reporting of complaints for customers who may need additional support. A plain English version of our complaints policy is available above.

Are reasonable adjustments made so all customers can raise a complaint?

Our response: Yes

Evidence: We offer different methods of communication to suit our customer's needs, including other languages and braille. Staff are given contacts for third party agencies who can provide different formats, including translators. Our complaints policy details how we make a commitment as per our Equality Diversity and Inclusion Policy 2022 and Inclusive Services Policy 2022 to provide an inclusive service to all of our customers.

Do we regularly publicise our complaints process to our residents? 

Our response: Yes

Evidence: Our complaints handling code is on both our website and social media. We also take part in campaigns that raise awareness of how to make a complaint. Our next campaign to publicise the complaints policy will be undertaken in 2023 / 2024.

Do we advise residents of the Housing Ombudsman service through regular correspondence and during a complaints process?

Our response: Yes

Evidence: We explain the Housing Ombudsman Service in our acknowledgement letters and in our stage 2 response letters.

Do we reach out to discuss complaints via social media?

Our response: Yes


When customers raise dissatisfaction through social media we message them privately and talk through their complaint with them.

Complaints handling personnel

Is there a complaint officer or equivalent in post?

Our response: Yes

Evidence: We have an independent team of customer feedback officers.

Does the complaint officer have the appropriate complaint handling skills and autonomy to solve matters?

Our response: Yes

Evidence: Training has addressed this. Where staff do not feel they have the authority to resolve an issue, they know to escalate it to their senior officer.

Complaint handling principles

When a complaint is made, is it acknowledged and logged at stage one of the complaints procedure within five days of receipt?

Our response: Yes

Evidence: We acknowledge complaints within five working days and this is recorded on our complaint system.

In our acknowledgement, do we set out our understanding of the complaint and the outcomes the resident is seeking?

Our response: No

Evidence: We do not currently state the reason for the complaint, or the outcome requested by the customer. We plan to do this going forward.

Do we investigate complaints in an impartial manner? 

Our response: Yes

Evidence: On average 70% of our complaints are upheld or partially upheld. 

Are residents and staff members given a fair chance to set out their position and comment on findings before a final decision is made?

Our response: Yes

Evidence: Customers are contacted to discuss their complaint and given the opportunity to provide any supporting evidence. On some occasions where customer contact is not possible, the complaint is investigated with the information available. Any employees invloved are consulted as part of the investigation.

Does our complaints policy contain a timescale for residents to request an escalation of a complaint? 

Our response: Yes

Do we clearly set out our reasons for declining to escalate a complaint? 

Our response: Yes

Evidence: On the rare occasions we decline to escalate a complaint, we ask for further information. This usually results in it going to the next stage.

Do we keep full records of the complaint and its outcomes?

Our response: Partially

Evidence: Our feedback system is old and needs to be updated in order for us to store all our work. However, all the information on stages and outcomes are logged and kept on the system.

Do we have policies and procedures in place for managing unacceptable behaviour from residents when pursuing a complaint?

Our response: Yes

Evidence:We have recently updated our company's 'Managing Unacceptable Behaviour' policy.

Do we give residents the opportunity to have a representative deal with the complaint on their behalf?

Our response: Yes

Evidence: Our policy allows third party reporting and support.

Putting things right

Where something has gone wrong are we taking appropriate steps to put things right?

Our response: Yes

Evidence: Remedies are put in place to put the customer into the position they would have been in had the issue not occurred. 

Do we manage the expectations of residents and not promise anything that cannot be delivered or would cause unfairness to other residents?

Our response: Yes

Evidence: We make sure that customers are aware of the need for fairness. Staff are able to use discretion where mitigating circumstances exist.

When awarding compensation, do we consider losses that have been incurred and the inconvenience that was caused?

Our response: Yes

Evidence: We have a compensation guide which ensures consistency and fairness when offering compensation and considers all factors of the incident.

Continuous learning and improvement

Do we make improvements as a result of learning from complaints?

Our response: Yes

Evidence: Service improvements are reported in the Tenants Annual report, to the senior management team and the board. We also share articles on our website showing our improvements after compaints.

Self-assessment and compliance

Do we carry out an annual self-assessment?

Our response: Yes

Evidence: Our assessment is submitted to the Board each year and published on the website, as seen above.