The Association expects high standards of courtesy and helpfulness from its staff and aims to make its services as user-
What is a complaint?
A complaint is not the same thing as a tenant or applicant querying a decision which a member of staff has made; in most cases such queries can be resolved satisfactorily by explaining the reasons for the decision and for the policy which underlies it. A complaint arises when a tenant or applicant feels they have been badly or unfairly treated; it is most likely that this will take one of the following forms: the complainant feels that the Association's policy has not been applied in his or her case, the complainant feels that the policy itself is unfair, the complainant feels that they have been treated unfairly, discourteously or otherwise unsatisfactorily by a member of staff.
The complaints procedure
1. The informal stage
Tenants or applicants who wish to query a decision which has been made by the Association's staff, or who are dissatisfied with the treatment they have received, should in the first instance discuss this with the Housing Officer. In most cases this will lead to a satisfactory resolution, in which case no further action is necessary. Where the tenant or applicant is still dissatisfied, they will be informed of their right to lodge a formal complaint, and the Housing Officer will record the discussion by means of a file note and an entry in the complaints book.
2. The formal stage
If the tenant or applicant wishes to take their complaint further, he or she should send a letter to the Chief Executive at the Association's office. The complaint will be recorded in the complaints book, and a letter of acknowledgement sent to the complainant on the day of receipt; the acknowledgement will also contain details of the formal stage of the procedure.
An appointment will be made for the complainant to meet the Chief Executive within five working days, and the Housing Officer will prepare a written report for the Chief Executive outlining events to date. The Chief Executive will review the
papers and correspondence, interview the complainant, and decide on a course of action; s/he will notify the complainant in writing of his/her decision and the reasons for it within three working days of the interview; this letter will also outline the complainant's right to appeal.
3. The appeals stage
A complainant can appeal against the Chief Executive’s decision by writing to the Chair of the Board of Management at the Association's office; any such letters will be acknowledged on the day of receipt, and details will be sent to the complainant of the appeal stage of the procedure. The Chief Executive will refer a full report and copies of correspondence to the Chair. The Chair of the Management Board will appoint two Board Members who, on behalf of the Management Board, will fully investigate all reports and correspondence carried out by the Housing Officer and the Chief Executive and they will respond to the complainant within 28 days of their appointment. They will also arrange to interview the complainant to ensure they have all information available. The two Board Members will be empowered to act on behalf of the Management Board and will report their findings and actions to the next Board Meeting.
Where a complainant has taken his or her complaint to appeal, he or she will be informed in writing of the right to refer their complaint to the Ombudsman Service if not satisfied, together with written details of how to contact the Service. Publicity material on the Ombudsman Service will be displayed on DHA's office notice board.
Expectation of staff
Dealing with complaints can be upsetting; staff may feel unfairly accused, and subject to distressing allegations. However, giving vent to such feelings is never constructive, and may destroy any prospect of retaining a reasonable working relationship with the tenant in future. All of the Association's staff involved in any way in the complaints procedure are therefore expected to observe high standards of professionalism and courtesy at all times and whatever the
provocation. Line managers will hold supervision sessions with members of staff who have recently been involved in the complaints procedure to help them work through the issues.
The Chief Executive will present an annual report to review all complaints received to a Board Meeting of the Association.