Ombudsman report on complaints about heating and hot water

The Housing Ombudsman Service has recently published a report that we think may be of interest to tenants which is focussed on complaints about heating and hot water. The report identified unnecessary delays in resolving issues together with landlords’ management of contractors as particular issues of concern. The report also highlights the serious impact these complaints can have on residents, especially when dealing with vulnerable households.

The report, Spotlight on complaints about heating, hot water and energy in social housing, is based on more than 200 cases investigated by the Housing Ombudsman service over an 18-month period from April 2019. It includes complaints about heat networks, gas servicing and energy efficiency to support decarbonisation. The highest number of complaints investigated concerned general heating and hot water issues, but there was a disproportionately high number of maladministration findings in the cases which involved heat networks – or district heating – and complaint handling.

The report makes several recommendations for improved practice including:

  • putting things ‘right first time’, particularly where contractors are involved through effective management of contracts
  • providing clear information for residents at the start of the tenancy or lease on properties with heat networks, and again if the arrangements change
  • planning gas safety inspections well ahead of the due date to allow for appointments to be made at a convenient time for residents and avoid missing renewal dates.

Overall, the report has 40 recommendations of best practice and we hope landlords will use the learning to help improve their services and complaint handling.