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Housing policies

Council housing strategy

The Council will produce a new Housing Strategy for North Northamptonshire in 2021 which will describe the challenges faced by local people who are looking for a home of their own and set out the main elements of the Council’s strategic approach to meeting housing needs.

Homelessness and rough sleeping strategy 2019-2024

The North Northamptonshire Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy 2019-2024 was developed and approved by the former sovereign councils of North Northamptonshire. This document will shortly be revised to take account of the priorities set out in the Council’s new Housing Strategy.

Discharge of Homelessness Duties policy

The Discharge of Homelessness Duties (Accommodation Offers) policy sets out how the Council will seek to discharge its duties through offers of accommodation to homeless households (in both the social and private rented housing sectors) which must comply with the relevant suitability requirements.

Temporary accommodation policy

The Temporary Accommodation policy sets out how the Council will meet its statutory duties and exercise its powers in relation to the provision (and withdrawal of) of suitable temporary accommodation for homeless households. This includes when temporary accommodation will be provided, and how different types of temporary accommodation will be allocated and prioritised.

Homelessness Prevention Fund policy

The Homelessness Prevention Fund policy sets out when households who are owed certain homelessness duties could be considered for a payment from the Fund. This payment may enable them to remain in existing accommodation, secure alternative accommodation, or prevent or delay the provision of temporary accommodation.

How homeless households will be helped to secure alternative accommodation in the private rented sector is detailed in the Private Rented Sector Access Fund Policy.

Private sector housing policy

The private sector housing policy sets out the areas the Council covers in relation to private sector housing including disabled facility grants and other grants, empty properties, immigration inspections and houses in multiple occupation, in addition to support for tenants. Information is included on the application process and conditions relating to grant funding and minimum standards for houses in multiple occupation. The document should be read in conjunction with the Council's joint enforcement policy.

Private Rented Sector Access Fund policy

The Private Rented Sector Access Fund policy sets out when households who are owed certain homelessness duties could be considered for a payment from the Fund to secure suitable and affordable accommodation in the private rented sector (it also details that the Fund will be used to make offers of suitable private rented sector accommodation to discharge certain homelessness duties).

Keyways housing allocation scheme

The Keyways housing allocation scheme sets out how we allocate social housing.

Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) policy

The policy confirming the arrangements that the Council will put into place to ensure that anyone who is known to be sleeping rough in its area during periods of severe weather are not at even further risk:

Complaint Handling Code - Self-assessment

The Housing Ombudsman’s Complaint Handling Code, introduced in July 2020, sets out good practice that will allow landlords to respond to complaints effectively and fairly.

The code sets out what should expect from us as your landlord when you complain. The requirements in the code also provide residents with information about how to make a complaint and how to progress it through the landlord’s internal complaints procedure.

We, as a landlord, must carry out an annual assessment against the code to ensure our complaint handling remains in line with its requirements:

Compliance with the Complaint Handling Code

1. Definition of a complaint

Yes or no

Comments

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

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.

Yes

 

 

We have added this complaint definition to the North Northamptonshire Council Tenants Complaints Procedure annex

Does the policy have exclusions where a complaint will not be considered?

Yes

 

Are these exclusions reasonable and fair to residents?

Evidence relied upon

We have ‘Unreasonably persistent complainant guidance’. This guidance also reflects the “Guidance note on ‘unreasonably persistent’ complainants and ‘unreasonable complainant behaviour’” issued by the Local Government Ombudsman in January 2007.

Yes

Yes. The exclusions are outside of the Housing Ombudsman jurisdiction and are normally where there are Government regulations that set out how we make a decision. The appeals process for such decisions would be separate from the complaints process.

 

2. Accessibility

Yes or no

Comments

Are multiple accessibility routes available for residents to make a complaint?

Yes

Yes. There are many ways to complain to us:

  • Using our website form
  • By telephone
  • By email
  • In writing
  • Ask your local councillor to raise it for you

Is the complaints policy and procedure available online?

Yes

 

Do we have a reasonable adjustments policy?

No

Although we do not have a separate Reasonable Adjustments Policy. We do have a section on Equalities within our Complaints Policy which states that:

“Assistance will be given where appropriate to people who have difficulty with written or spoken English and to disabled people. People will also be able to make complaints in their own language if this is preferable. The Council’s intention is that all members of the public should have full access to the Compliments, Comments or Complaints Procedure”.

Do we regularly advise residents about our complaints process?

Yes

Details of our Complaints Policy and procedure are available to view on the Council’s website. We also include information on the Council’s complaints process in our Tenants Handbook. In future we will also include a page on the back of the rent notices which go out annually and within our tenant newsletter.

 

3. Complaints team and process

Yes or no

Comments

Is there a complaint officer or equivalent in post?

Yes

 

Does the complaint officer have autonomy to resolve complaints?

Yes

 

Does the complaint officer have authority to compel engagement from other departments to resolve disputes?

Yes

 

If there is a third stage to the complaints procedure are residents involved in the decision making?

N/A

 

Is any third stage optional for residents? 

N/A

 

Does the final stage response set out residents’ right to refer the matter to the Housing Ombudsman Service?

Yes

 

Do we keep a record of complaint correspondence including correspondence from the resident?

Yes

 

At what stage are most complaints resolved?

 

The majority of complaints are resolved at stage 1.

 

4. Communication

Yes or no

Comments

Are residents kept informed and updated during the complaints process?

 

Complaints are acknowledged and residents are provided with contact details of the investigating officer. In addition to this the complaints team are putting in place measures to ensure residents are kept informed throughout the process.

Are residents informed of the landlord’s position and given a chance to respond and challenge any area of dispute before the final decision?

No

We do not routinely do this; however we may do so for particularly complex cases.

Are all complaints acknowledged and logged within five days?

Yes

 

Are residents advised of how to escalate at the end of each stage?

Yes

 

What proportion of complaints are resolved at stage one?

 

The complaints team are looking into a new system for recording complaints, however at present any analysis of complaints needs to be carried out manually and is therefore not readily available.

What proportion of complaints are resolved at stage two?

 

The complaints team are looking into a new system for recording complaints, however at present any analysis of complaints needs to be carried out manually and is therefore not readily available.

What proportion of complaint responses are sent within Code timescales?

  • Stage one

Stage one (with extension)

  • Stage two

Stage two (with extension)

 

This is not currently measured; however the complaints team are working on more closely monitoring of response timescales.

Where timescales have been extended did we have good reason?

Yes

 

Where timescales have been extended did we keep the resident informed?

Yes

We would always keep residents informed when extensions are required.

What proportion of complaints do we resolve to residents’ satisfaction

 

We do not currently measure satisfaction, however this will be looked at as part of the wider satisfaction work being undertaken.

 

5. Cooperation with Housing Ombudsman Service

Yes or no

Comments

Were all requests for evidence responded to within 15 days?

 

We try to ensure all requests are responded to within the timescales.

Where the timescale was extended, did we keep the Ombudsman informed?

Yes

 

 

6. Fairness in complaint handling

Yes or no

Comments

Are residents able to complain via a representative throughout?

Yes

 

If advice was given, was this accurate and easy to understand?

Yes

 

How many cases did we refuse to escalate?

What was the reason for the refusal?

 

We have not refused to escalate any complaints. However, if it falls under one of the “exclusions” this will be looked at under a different process.

Did we explain our decision to the resident?

 

If a complaint is regarding a regulatory decision and therefore an appeal would need to go through a separate appeals process, this would be explained to the resident.

 

7. Outcomes and remedies

Yes or no

Comments

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

 

Yes. Action plans are put in place and these are monitored.

 

8. Continuous learning and improvement

Yes or no

Comments

What improvements have we made as a result of learning from complaints?

On an ad-hoc basis we have put action plans in place where necessary.

 

Examples of improvements from these action plans include:

  • Learning from complaints forms part of team meetings
  • New and refresher staff training
  • Review of customer journey
  • Learning from customer journey reviews placed on manager work plans

How do we share these lessons with:

  1. residents
  2. the board/governing body
  3. In the Annual Report
 

1. We will be sharing lessons learnt from complaints with residents via our tenants consultation panel, future resident newsletter, our Annual Report to Tenants and via our website.

2. In future, learning from complaints will be taken to the Corporate Leadership Team on a quarterly basis.

3. A lessons learnt from complaints section will feature in future Annual Reports to Tenants.

Has the Code made a difference to how we respond to complaints?

 

The code has emphasised the need to regularly review and learn from complaints.

What changes have we made?

 

We will:

  • include regular articles on how to make a complaint in our resident newsletter
  • regularly review the volume, category and outcome of complaints, analysing the issues and trends.
  • publish learning from complaints in our Annual Report to Tenants as well as the resident newsletter

ask residents for their feedback as to whether their complaint has been resolved to their satisfaction.

Last updated 27 May 2022