On the 11th December, we held our final Disrepair Improvement Group (DIG) meeting of 2023. The meeting discussed best practice in disrepair complaints and alternative dispute resolution.
Anne-Marie Bancroft, Head of Consumer Regulation at Altair Ltd, kicked off the session with a discussion on best practice. The recent implementation of a Building Safety Regulator and changes to the Regulator of Social Housing will impact complaints handling and tenant satisfaction.
Anne-Marie explained that new tenant satisfaction measures, a series of ‘OFSTED-style’ inspections and strengthened powers for the Housing Ombudsman will help tackle the increasing rates of maladministration and disrepair cases in the sector.
She also examined the differences between local and centralised complaints handling models and explained the benefits and pitfalls of each. Communication and visibility between legal, major works delivery teams, and complaints teams is essential.
Joanne Scarlett, Head of Business Management and Repairs at The Riverside Group, discussed one of Riverside’s recent disrepair complaints case studies in which the group was praised by the Housing Ombudsman for its efforts. Joanne explained the time frames used to manage each stage of the complaint, and discussed how the model changed based on the Ombudsman’s feedback.
Amanda Trent, Repairs Manager at Riverside, explained Riverside’s main objectives throughout the complaints process. She also showed attendees how the existing process was reviewed to provide more visibility in the business. The customer was ensured complete transparency throughout and a resolution was reached within seven days. Amanda also discussed Riverside’s ‘post-inspection’ pack which is created in each case and covers each measure taken in detail, with the aim of being ‘Ombudsman Ready’ in the event of a complaint.
In the final session, Leah Brown and Nadia Burrell of Broadstairs Consulting discussed the company’s role as a strategic advisory and mediation practice. They outlined the different forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution used to resolve issues involving landlords and tenants.
The increasing use of complaints management companies in disrepair cases can make landlords feel out of control, but ADR may offer a solution. Leah and Nadia explained the four different types of ADR which are arbitration, conciliation, mediation and negotiation, and the benefits of ADR, which is often cheaper than litigation, private and confidential, and has a high success rate.
Mediation provides a safe environment to explore disputes and may offer a less adversarial approach to the traditional processes used in the sector.
Our Disrepair Improvement Group Meetings are free for AMIP members to attend. Our first session of 2024 is taking place on Tues 30 January, and you can sign up here: https://lnkd.in/dvx86yNZ