You can make a formal complaint if you are unhappy with a decision the Housing Executive has made or how the Housing Executive has treated you or your case. You need to use a different procedure to challenge a housing benefit decision, challenge a decision about your homelessness or appeal a decision to end your introductory tenancy.
Using the complaints procedure
You should use the complaints procedure if you are unhappy with a decision, work or the behaviour of the Housing Executive. You could complain if
- the Housing Executive doesn't deliver a service on time
- the Housing Executive gives you incorrect, or not enough information
- the Housing Executive gives you poor quality service
- you believe that your case has not been dealt with properly
- you have a complaint about a member of staff.
Making a complaint
It is usually best to try and sort out your problems quickly and locally. Contact your District Office to explain your problem. You can either telephone or write to your District Office. The staff at the District Office should try and deal with your problem as quickly as possible. If the District Office isn't able sort out the problem, you can then use the formal complaints procedure. Find out which office has responsibility for your problem.
Complain to the right person
You need to make sure you send your first stage complaint to the right person at the right office. Different managers investigate different areas of the Housing Executive's business.
- Complaints about housing, including housing benefit, offers of housing, repairs and neighbourhood problems go to the Regional Manager at your Regional Office
- Complaints about grants go the the Grants Manager in your area
- Complaints about buying or selling your house of land go to the Land & Propery Manager in your area
Call the Housing Executive on 03448 920 900 to get the name and the address for the manager you need or find the information on the Housing Executive's website. You can also submit a complaint by emailing the Housing Executive, but make sure that you explain that this is a first stage formal complaint and ask that the complaint be forwarded to the relevant manager who is responsible for investigating these.
Writing your complaint
Your complaint needs to include your name, address and telephone number. You need to include as much detail as you can about the matter you're complaining about. Try to put in any relevant dates and times and the names of any people in the Housing Executive who have been involved in the matter you're complaining about. If you're including any extra material as part of your complaint, like letters or photographs, make sure you keep copies of these for your own records.
Your complaint should explain
- why you are complaining
- why you believe the Housing Executive's decisions or actions were wrong
Keep a copy of your letter and make a note of when you sent it.
Housing Executive's response
The Regional Manager will appoint someone to investigate your complaint. The Housing Executive should contact you within 3 working days of receiving your complaint to let you know that it has been received. The investigating officer will contact your local office to see if that office has already investigate the matter. If the local office hasn't already looked into the issue the manager at that office will be asked to investigate and to respond to you within 15 days. If the local office has already investigated and you were unhappy with that response the investigating officer will look into the matter further and aim to reply to you within 15 days.
Whoever is investigating the complaint will contact you, either in person or by telephone, to get more information from you about the issue. Once the investigation is complete, the investigating officer will write a response and send it to the Regional Manager who will review the response and, if happy with it, sign it and send it to you.
The response to your complaint should address each point that you've raised and explain that you have a right to make a second stage complaint if you're unhappy with the outcome of the first stage of the process.
Second stage complaint
If you are not satisfied with the Housing Executive's response you can start a second complaint. Your second complaint letter should state why you are challenging the Housing Executive's decision. The letter should state:
- how the case was decided wrongly
- circumstances the Housing Executive failed to take into account.
Explain any circumstances that support your complaint in detail. Include any new evidence that may help your case. You may want to contact an advice agency to help you write your second complaint letter.
Send your second complaint letter to:
The Chief Executive
The Housing Centre
2 Adelaide Street
Belfast BT2 8PB
You should receive a letter acknowledging your complaint within 3 working days. You should receive a letter telling you the Housing Executive's response within 15 days. If, for some reason, it's not possible to give you a full response within 15 days you should receive a letter explaining why there has been a delay and giving you a new timeframe for a full response. The letter should also inform you that you have a right to complain to the Ombudsman if you are not satisfied.
Taking your complaint further
If you're unhappy with the outcome of the second stage complaint you may be able to complain to the Ombudsman (also known as the Commissioner for Complaints) or take a Judicial Review.