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Complaints and Compliments Policy.

by Anne-Marie Pearce & filed under About this website


Keelman Homes is committed to providing excellent homes and housing services to the people of Gateshead, and we work hard to make sure that we meet the high standards we set ourselves wherever possible.

Compliments from our customers tell us what we are doing well. When something goes wrong, feedback from complaints allows us to put things right and improve how we do things in future.

Encouraging and welcoming positive and negative feedback from our customers is key to our values:

  • Customers: passionate about our social purpose, we place people and communities at the heart of all we do
  • Growing: remaining financially viable, we are ambitious, dynamic and wholly committed to delivering solutions in challenging times that provide opportunities to expand and strengthen the company
  • Quality: we strive for excellence through reflection and continuous improvement, ensuring professionalism and accountability are culturally embedded within our organisation
  • Collaboration: we are committed to a culture of openness, teamwork and the spirit of partnership-working, both as an organisation and in our work with external partners
  • Flexibility: we remain fluid in our approach, encouraging creativity and innovation in our responses to changing external environments and business pressures

As well as recording and learning internally from feedback it is also important to let our customers know what we have done as a result.

This policy is intended to provide guidance for employees and customers on what we would define as a complaint; how we manage the complaints process; what we can do to put things right, and what customers can do if they are not happy with the outcome of the complaints process.

The policy also sets out how we learn from customer feedback, and how we publish this to our customers.


  • 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. A resident does not have to use the word ‘complaint’ for it to be treated as such.
  • Compliment – An expression of satisfaction where the customer feels that we have delivered a service particularly well or exceeded their expectation in some way.
  • Investigating Officer – a designated person and point of contact for a customer. The officer is responsible for overseeing the complaint through all stages of a complaint.
  • KH – Keelman Homes (also known as ‘the Landlord’)
  • Managing Agent – Karbon Homes
  • Customer – A tenant, leaseholder or shared owner
  • Officer – Keelman Homes or Managing Agent employee


This policy does not cover complaints which are subject to legal action or which are being dealt with as insurance claims.

Complaints about tenants or nuisance behaviour are not covered by this policy and should be referred to the Managing Agent’s Housing Team, unless the complaint relates to a policy and procedures, or to how the case is being managed by the officers involved.

In line with guidance from the Housing Ombudsman, Keelman Homes also reserves the right to not investigate a complaint which has not been reported in a timely fashion.

Under normal circumstances we therefore expect customers to register their complaint no later than six months after the event.

Complaints about employees where serious misconduct is alleged are not covered by this policy and will be investigated outside of the corporate complaints process and in conjunction with HR.

Data protection

In the course of investigating a complaint it may be necessary to share customer information with other organisations or a third party.

It is also possible that a customer may ask someone (a family member, councillor or other advocate) to complain on their behalf.

It is essential that we get permission, either verbally or in writing, from the customer before releasing any personal information to another party. This permission should be recorded on the system in the case notes for the complaint.

Do not assume that permission granted on one occasion constitutes a blanket permission to share the customer’s details. Permission should be sought from the customer and recorded against each new complaint to ensure that their data is protected.

Service requests

A service request is a request from a resident to either Keelman Homes or our Managing Agent which requires action to be taken to put something right. For example, a customer may call up and say ‘I am not very happy that my door is difficult to open/close’ – if this was the first contact made by the customer this would not be a complaint, but rather should be treat as a request for an inspection/repair to a door. However, using this example, if the customer has called up for the same issue on more than one occasion and their service request was ignored, it would be reasonable for this request to be treated as a complaint because the Managing Agent has already had an opportunity to put things right but has failed to do so.

Service requests will usually be something that can be resolved immediately and may not need to be recorded on our complaints system.

When a service request is received by Keelman Homes directly it will refer the request to a service best placed (in the Managing Agent organisation) to action the request and will issue an instruction to that service to record the request made. Keelman Homes will also record the request internally and will monitor and review the request regularly.

When a service request is received by a Managing Agent employee delivering services on behalf of Keelman Homes the employee will be expected to record the request, and monitor and review.

A complaint could be raised if the person raising the service request is dissatisfied with the outcome of their request.

Complaints process

The customer should always be at the centre of the complaint’s procedure, and where something has gone wrong our focus should be on putting things right, not justifying our actions or being defensive.

A complaint that is submitted via a third party or representative must also be handled in line with this policy.

The Complaint and Compliments Policy is easy for tenants to access via the Keelman Homes website. A copy of the policy can be provided to customers in different formats – See ‘reasonable adjustments’ section.

Complaints will be accepted verbally or in writing, and by all our recognised communication channels including the Keelman Homes general enquiries inbox, website and social media.

All officers have access to the complaints system and are all responsible for ensuring that they record all complaints they receive.

Officers should aim to solve the complaint at the first point of contact wherever possible.

Keelman Homes operates a two stage complaints procedure:

  • Stage 1 – Investigation – Where the customer requires a formal response, or an investigation is needed in order to determine a solution. We aim to provide a final response within 10 working days.
  • Stage 2 – Review – Where the customer is unhappy with the response from the Investigation and wants it to be reviewed by a Service Director of the Managing Agent. We aim to provide a final response within 20 working days.

Stage 1 – Investigation

When a complaint is received an investigating officer will be identified and that person will log the complaint and acknowledge it within 5 working days of the complaint being received.

Early advice will be offered to the complainant regarding their right to access the Housing Ombudsman Service throughout their complaint if they want to.

If the complainant requests for a representative to deal with the complaint on their behalf, this request will be honoured. The complainant will also be made aware that they can be represented or accompanied to any meeting with Keelman Homes or the Managing Agent by their representative where this is reasonable.

The officer will ensure they have a full understanding of the complaint and the outcomes the complainant is seeking. If any part of the complaint or desired outcome is unclear the officer will seek clarity from the complainant and a full definition of the complaint will be agreed by both parties. The officer first contact must be recorded in writing and logged by the investigating officer.

The investigating officer will manage the expectation of the complainant from the outset, if it is considered that the desired outcome is unreasonable or unrealistic.

When the extent of the investigation required is known the complainant will be contacted and informed of a clear timescale which the investigating officer will endeavour to carry out their investigation. The target timescale from the investigating officer appointment to reaching a conclusion is 10 working days from when the complaint is logged.

If the investigation is likely to take longer than 10 working days, it should not exceed 20 working days and the tenant should be made aware of when the investigation will conclude.

In exceptional circumstances where an investigation is likely to take longer than 20 working days this should be agreed between the investigating officer and the complainant. If an agreement of timescales for conducting the investigation cannot be made between both parties, the investigating officer must inform Keelman Homes and should provide the Housing Ombudsman contact details to the complainant, so that the ombudsman can challenge the investigation timescales.

The investigation will be conducted in an impartial manner, seeking sufficient, reliable information so that fair and appropriate findings and recommendations can be made.

The complaint handler will:

  1. deal with complaints on their merits
  2. act independently and have an open mind
  3. take measures to address any actual or perceived conflict of interest
  4. consider all information and evidence carefully
  5. keep the complaint confidential as far as possible, with information only disclosed if necessary to properly investigate the matter.

Where a key issue of a complaint relates to legal obligations the investigating officer will clearly set out their understanding of the obligations of both parties and seek clarification before doing so where this is not initially clear.

If a customer or an officer is the subject of a complaint, the subject will be given a fair chance to set out their position and comment on any adverse findings before a final decision is made.

The investigating officer will provide regular updates about the progress of the investigation.

If additional complaints are raised while the investigation is open these will be incorporated into the response, if they are relevant and the response has not been issued. If the response has been issued, or new information would unreasonably delay the response, or it is not relevant to this complaint, it will be logged as a new complaint.

A response will be sent to the complainant when the answer to the complaint is known, not when the outstanding actions required to address the issue, are completed. The reason for the outcome should detail clear reasons for the decision and should refer to policy, law and good practice (where applicable).

The response issued in writing by the investigating officer concluding the investigation at the end of stage one will clearly (and in plain language) state:

  1. the complaint stage
  2. the complaint definition
  3. the decision on the complaint
  4. the reasons for any decisions made
  5. the details of any remedy offered to put things right
  6. details of any outstanding actions
  7. details of how to escalate the matter to stage two if the complainant is not satisfied with the response
  8. a statement to inform the complainant that at any time they wish to seek impartial advice from the ombudsman, they are free to do so.

If the complainant is unhappy with the outcome of the Investigation, they can request a stage two review and must do this within 10 working days of the initial decision. Contact details will be provided on the response letter for how the complainant can do this.

Stage 2 – Review of complaint

If a complainant is dissatisfied after stage one, they can request a review. A review cannot start until the first stage of a complaint has fully concluded.

A request for the review will not be unreasonably withheld.

When received the request will be referred to the Managing Agent’s Reviewer (who will be a Service Director) and the Managing Director for Keelman Homes.

The Reviewer will review both the handling and outcome of the complaint.

The Managing Director of Keelman Homes will be updated by the Reviewer on their findings as the review progresses and be provided with a copy of the final response.

The complaint will receive a full response from the Reviewer within 20 working days. This time period may be extended depending on the complexity of the complaint.

If an extension is likely to exceed a further 20 working days, the complainant will be consulted and agreement for an extension sought. If agreement cannot be reached, the Reviewer should notify the Managing Director of Keelman Homes and provide the Housing Ombudsman contact details to the complainant, so that the timescales for review can be challenged.

When the review is complete, the Reviewer will confirm the following in writing to the complainant at the completion of stage two in clear, plain language:

  1. the complaint stage
  2. the complaint definition
  3. the decision on the complaint
  4. the reasons for any decisions made
  5. the details of any remedy offered to put things right
  6. details of any outstanding actions
  7. the Housing Ombudsman contact details should they remain dissatisfied with the decision

The Ombudsman Service

The Housing Ombudsman Complaint Handling Code sets out requirements for member landlords that will allow them to respond to complaints effectively and fairly.

The revised Code was published 9 March 2022 and came into effect from 1 April 2022.

A notable change to be aware of is that Landlords must provide early advice to residents regarding their right to access the Housing Ombudsman Service throughout their complaint, not only when the landlord’s complaints process is exhausted. This affords the resident the opportunity to engage with the Ombudsman’s dispute support advisors for impartial advice.

Landlords must publicise their complaints policy and process, the Complaint Handling Code and the Housing Ombudsman Scheme in leaflets, posters, newsletters, online and as part of regular correspondence with residents.

Landlords must provide residents with contact information for the Ombudsman as part of its regular correspondence with residents.

Vexatious complaints and complainants

Keelman Homes is committed to dealing with all complaints fairly and impartially and to providing a high-quality service to those who make them.

However, a small minority of customers make complaints that are time wasting, in that they persist unreasonably with their complaints, or make complaints in order to make life difficult for staff rather than to genuinely resolve a grievance. This may involve those making serial complaints about different matters or continuing to raise the same or similar matters over and over again. The frequency of contact can hinder the consideration of their complaints and the ability of staff to provide a quality service to other customers.

We refer to these as complaints and complainants as “vexatious”.

Even where a complaint or complainant is deemed to be vexatious, it is still important to ensure that they can access our services, including the complaints service.

To achieve this, there are several options available to officers to enable them to manage vexatious complaints and complainants fairly but effectively.

Reasonable adjustments

Keelman Homes is committed to ensuring that disabled people are not disadvantaged in accessing its services. This policy does not seek to explain how we will approach every situation, it is intended as a general statement of our policy.

Under the Equality Act 2010 it has a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments arises in three circumstances:

  • Where there is a provision, criterion or practice which puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in relation to a relevant matter in comparison with persons who are not disabled
  • Where a physical feature puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with persons who are not disabled
  • Where a disabled person would, but for the provision of an auxiliary aid, be put at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with persons who are not disabled.

To make an adjustment means to make a physical change to premises or to change work practices to avoid or correct the disadvantage to a person with a disability. Examples of this include:

  • Allowing more time than we would usually for someone to provide information that we needed or
  • Providing specialist equipment or additional support such as a sign language interpreter for a workshop or event.

The Managing Agent, acting on behalf of Keelman Homes, has the same legal duty under the Equality Act 2010.

Redress and remedies

Any remedy should put right the failure and restore the customer to the position they were in before the failure occurred. Redress should be proportionate to the damage, loss or distress caused.

Remedies that can be offered include work in kind, replacement of damaged or lost items, or financial redress where it is not possible to put the problem right in any other way.

Where a customer wishes to make a claim to have damaged goods replaced or repaired, they must keep the damaged items for inspection. The claim must be made within 28 days of the damage or loss occurring.

Where we offer to replace a specific item, we will take into consideration the condition and age of the item being replaced – we will not provide replacement items on a “new for old” basis.

When assessing the complaint, it will be considered whether any statutory payments are due, if any quantifiable losses have been incurred, the time and trouble a resident has been put to as well as any distress and inconvenience caused. In deciding whether to award financial redress, the Investigating Officer will consider whether action (or lack of action) by the customer has contributed to the loss or damage being claimed for.

Keelman Homes expects customers to have appropriate insurance cover for their homes and belongings. The Investigating Officer will only consider claims for loss or damage which have been directly caused by negligence of a Managing Agent officer or other party acting on behalf of Keelman Homes.

Where the customer owes an outstanding debt to Keelman Homes, any redress payment will first be used to offset this debt.

Learning from complaints and compliments

Keelman Homes will continually review Complaints and Compliments received and its processes to improve the service it offers to customers.

Satisfaction surveys will be carried out annually or every 2 years (frequency decided and reviewed by the Board) and findings will be presented to the Keelman Homes Board and published the website.

Equality statement

Keelman Homes is committed to meeting the needs of its current and potential customers and expects the managing agent to ensure everyone is able to access the services they require.

To ensure that all customers are able to report complaints it is expected that the Managing Agent accepts complaints verbally and in writing, including by email and text.

Support systems should be offered by the Managing Agent which may include:

  • Other language interpreting service (including face-to-face interpreting, British Sign Language (BSL) Interpreters and Lip Speakers)
  • Other language translating services
  • Hearing Induction Loop Systems (available at all offices and for home visits)
  • Home visits where customers are unable to access our offices

Monitoring and review

Keelman Homes monitors performance of its Managing Agent using internal performance indicators and service standards, and external benchmarking with HouseMark.

Performance data is collected quarterly and assessed by the Keelman Homes Board.

This policy will be reviewed annually by Keelman Homes and amendments will be approved by the Keelman Homes Board.