Housing crisis: the most complained about social landlords in England – check how yours compares

Thousands of complaints were made against social housing landlords last year (Image: Kim Mogg / NationalWorld)Thousands of complaints were made against social housing landlords last year (Image: Kim Mogg / NationalWorld)
Thousands of complaints were made against social housing landlords last year (Image: Kim Mogg / NationalWorld) | Kim Mogg / NationalWorld
More than 2,000 complaints about social housing landlords were made to England’s Housing Ombudsman last year.

Thousands of complaints were made to England’s Housing Ombudsman last year because of inadequate social housing stock, including almost 700 about council landlords, official figures naming and shaming the worst offenders reveal.

Over 100 social landlords collectively managing 2.8 million homes across England had 2,202 complaints made against them during the 2021/22 period, according to NationalWorld analysis of Housing Ombudsman data. The body said the condition of properties remained the biggest area of complaint, as it warned more action was needed to improve the quality of social homes and service provided to tenants.

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It comes after a coroner ruled last month that two-year-old Awaab Ishak died from developing a severe respiratory condition caused by prolonged exposure to mould in his home run by Rochdale Boroughwide Housing. The Regulator of Social Housing found "widespread failings" at the housing association.

Of the complaints last year, 992 were upheld either partially (if a complaint referred to more than one issue) or in full, with the Ombudsman ruling there had been maladministration. In total almost £400,000 was paid out in compensation to tenants. The analysis only includes social landlords with five or more cases determined between 1 April 2021 and March 2022, so the true number of complaints and cases of maladministration will be higher still.

According to the watchdog, maladministration is where a landlord, for example, has failed to comply with their legal obligations, policies and procedures, or unreasonably delayed in dealing with the matter.

Three landlords had more than 100 complaints made against them during the year: Clarion Housing Association Limited, Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing and London and Quadrant Housing Trust. All three also had the greatest number of maladministration findings, each recording more than 50.

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NationalWorld has created an interactive table further down this article so you can search for your landlord to find how they fared compared to others, and which landlords had the highest rate of both complaints and upheld complaints.

The most complained about landlords

Shepherds Bush Housing Association Limited was found to have the highest rate of maladministration in 2021/22 with a rate of 20.3 per 100,000 homes compared to an average of 4.1 among the 114 landlords included. The landlord had 14 cases made against it, of which nine had a maladministration finding, one severe and two for partial.

A spokesperson for the housing association said it was focused on continuing to improve its services to ensure it is providing better outcomes for tenants.

“We acknowledge that across the cases raised by the Housing Ombudsman in 2021-22 we should have done better and we’d like to again apologise to those customers who have been impacted,” a spokesperson said.

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“Over the last two years we have been working hard to improve the services our customers receive. Whilst there is still plenty of work to be done it is clear that we are on the right path. This year we are currently reporting a reduction in overall complaints of 15% when compared to 2021.”

Kingston upon Thames Council was also found to have the highest rate of complaints made against it last year, according to NationalWorld’s analysis. The local authority had a complaint rate of 39.4 per 10,000 homes, compared to an average of 9.3.

Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing and Clarion Housing Association Limited had the greatest number of maladministration outcomes with 56 in total, followed by London & Quadrant Housing Trust with 54.

Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing had the largest total compensation payout with £27,258, followed by Clarion Housing Association Limited with £24,141 and London and Quadrant Housing Trust with £21,939.

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As a proportion of complaints, the London Borough of Hillingdon Council was also found to have the greatest proportion of maladministration findings, with 87.5% upheld. This was followed by Habinteg Housing Association Limited, Arun District Council and East Devon District Council all with 80%.

‘Deeply concerning’

In a recent statement Richard Blakeway from the Housing Ombudsman said it was “deeply concerning” that some landlords have “excessively high” maladministration rates.

“These landlords in particular should identify the areas where service failure occurs most and address any common causes. Demonstrating change and service improvement will be essential for ensuring trust with residents,” Blakeway said.

“We recognise that social landlords and residents are facing unprecedented challenges, with a cost of living crisis and ageing homes, but a positive complaints handling culture remains vital. Our review highlights the challenges with embedding this and also shows poor performance in some service areas still at unacceptably high levels.

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“Too often landlords can focus on managing the reputational risk to their organisation when things go wrong, rather than learning and improvement.”

How does my landlord compare?

Dozens of local authorities were also rapped by the Housing Ombudsman last year. In total 47 councils received 666 complaints with maladministration rulings totalling 326.

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Hammersmith and Fulham Council, which is responsible for almost 17,000 homes, had 33 cases brought forward in 2021/22, with 24 findings of maladministration. It had the highest rate of maladministration of any local authority with 14.1 per 10,000 homes.

You can find out how many case determinations and maladministration findings were identified by the Housing Ombudsman in the table below. Can’t see the table? Click here.

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Kingston upon Thames Council did not respond to NationalWorld’s request for a comment.

Condemned: Britain’s Housing Crisis

The NationalWorld team is investigating the housing crisis blighting Britain. The current plight is years in the making, from renters stuck in mouldy homes to families unable to afford cladding repairs to make their flats safe. If you have a story to tell email [email protected].

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