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Some of England’s biggest social housing landlords are ignoring official warnings to better deal with tenant complaints and the problem is getting worse, the sector’s ombudsman has said.

Landlords including L&Q, Southwark Council and the A2Dominion Group – which together rent 142,000 low-cost homes – have failed to act despite being asked to address delays in responding to complaints and providing information to the supervisory body.

Richard Blakeway, the housing ombudsman, said that in just three months the watchdog had made 43 “complaints about non-compliance orders” to landlords and 18 had not been complied with, the most large number to date.

“It is exceptional that we issue a dismissal order,” he said. “For a landlord to receive multiple complaints and not comply with them indicates that their complaints procedure is not working as it should. The result is that residents continually wait for redress and landlords miss opportunities to remedy the situation sooner.

There was national anger over the failure of social landlords to listen to tenants in the years before the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 and before the death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak in December 2020, continued to lung failure caused by untreated mold.

Tenants say a functioning complaints process is key to solving endemic problems ranging from mold to anti-social behavior.

Three landlords in London repeatedly failed to comply with the watchdog’s orders between April and June this year. These are Barking and Dagenham council, whose leader Darren Rodwell is a Labor candidate in the next general election, Haringey council and Southwark council, which are also under party control.

Tenant group Social Housing Action Campaign (Shac) said the findings supported its research.

“Our experience shows that there has been no improvement or that the level of handling of complaints has actually decreased,” said Suzanne Muna, the Shac secretary. “If they ignore the ombudsman, the government must act to be tougher. »

The National Housing Federation, which represents social housing providers, and L&Q declined to comment on the ombudsman’s warning.

Southwark Council leader Kieron Williams said this week “published our plans to improve our repair service” but criticized “decisions made by government ministers” which had “taken hundreds of millions out of books of funds available to councils to maintain our services. tenants’ accommodation.

Michael Reece, executive director of operations at A2Dominion, said the ombudsman’s interventions did not “reflect the level of service and complaints resolution” he hoped to provide and that he had “unreservedly apologized to the customers affected by this.”

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theguardian