by Rajiv Singh, 18-04-2024

How to Deal with Tenant Complaints?

The landlord property management sector in England underwent a major transformation with the introduction of the Renters Reform Bill on May 17th, 2023. This legislation established a single, government-approved ‘Private Rented Sector Ombudsman’ to provide “fair, impartial, & binding resolutions” for tenant complaints. Designed to be faster and less confrontational than court proceedings, this new system applies to most, but not all, private landlords in England.

  1. The PRSO currently applies to landlords who are registered businesses or letting agents.-
  2. Landlords who are individual private owners are not obligated to use the PRSO scheme but are still bound by relevant tenancy legislation.

In these cases, both tenants and landlords can seek guidance from their local council or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau for alternative dispute resolution procedures.

The Housing Ombudsman Complaint Handling Code

To complement this system and ensure a more efficient complaint-resolution process for tenants, the Housing Ombudsman (HO) has introduced the Housing Ombudsman’s Complaint Handling Code. Effective April 1st, 2024, this mandatory code outlines a clear framework for all landlords (including individual owners) to address tenant complaints efficiently and fairly.

The HO’s complaint handling code outlines these key elements of effective complaint handling for landlords:

Accessibility- Provide multiple complaint channels (phone/email/online, etc.) for easy tenant access.

Transparency- Maintain a clear complaints policy outlining stages, procedures, & timeframes. Make the policy readily available to tenants.

Timeliness- Landlords are required to respond to complaints within 10 working days.
Communication-Deliver clear, easy-to-understand responses, explaining decisions when necessary.

Confidentiality- Handle all complaints confidentially.
Equality-Offer equal access to the complaints process for all tenants, with reasonable adjustments for disabilities.
Fairness-Train staff to recognize complaints and handle them impartially.

Appeals- Establish a clear appeals process and provide valid reasons for refusing escalation.

Record-Keeping- Maintain detailed records of all complaints and related communication.

Complaint Process: How to Handle Noise Complaints from Tenants?

The following example focuses on noise complaints, but the general process applies to all types of tenant concerns. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Inform tenants of their right to contact their local council, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, or the Housing Ombudsman throughout the process of receiving the complaint.
  • Assign a dedicated person or team to handle the complaint.
  • Maintain clear communication. Acknowledge complaints within 2 days and keep tenants informed about time frames and escalation options.
  • Seek agreement from tenants when resolving concerns. Document all agreements/disagreements.

How to Respond to Complaints?

Acknowledge receipt of the complaint within 2 working days (via email or letter). Investigate the complaint thoroughly, which may involve consulting experts, examining the property, or reviewing maintenance records. After the investigation, draft a formal response that includes:

  • Acknowledgement of the complaint, including the date it was received.
  • Summary of the issue(s) raised by the tenant.
  • Final decision: “complaint upheld,” “complaint partially-upheld,” or “complaint not upheld.”
  • Clear justifications for the decision reached (refer to relevant legislation or tenancy agreement clauses).
  • Explanation of the Stage Two appeal process (if applicable).
  • Maintain detailed records of all complaint-related communications with the tenant.


If the complaint is upheld or partially upheld, clearly outline the specific remedy offered to address the tenant’s concerns. This could involve compensation, repairs, or other corrective actions. The remedy should be proportionate to the severity of the issue and it should detail all the specific actions that need to be taken by the landlord:

  • Descriptions of the action/s to be undertaken.
  • The parties responsible for carrying out the actions.
  • A realistic time frame for completion of each action.

Stage 2 Appeal

If the tenant is unsatisfied with the response, explain the Stage Two appeal process (e.g., via email or form). A different professional within the landlord’s organization should review this appeal to ensure impartiality. After a thorough review, the landlord should respond to the appeal within 20 working days, following the same structure as the Stage One response, outlining:

Complaint Definition (as potentially refined during the appeal)

  • Decision on the Appeal (upholding, partially-upholding, or rejecting the appeal)
  • Reasons for the Appeal Decision (with clear justifications)
  • Offered Remedy (if applicable) and Outstanding Actions (if applicable, with timelines)
  • Escalation to the Housing Ombudsman (if this is the final stage within the landlord’s internal process)

If the tenant remains dissatisfied after the Stage 2 appeal response, they have the right to escalate the complaint to the Housing Ombudsman Service. From then on, the HO will investigate the complaint and make a binding ruling.

For additional resources on this topic, consider exploring landlord property management tools like RentOnCloud. RentOnCloud’s dashboard acts as a one-stop shop for all communication related to tenant complaints.

When tenants submit “Fix It” or “Raise a Task” requests on their accounts, they appear as designated tasks on the landlord’s dashboard. This eliminates the need for juggling multiple communication channels, minimizes the risk of miscommunication or missed deadlines, and ensures all relevant information is documented & readily accessible/ trackable

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About Rajiv Singh

A Chartered Accountant in UK with 15+ years of experience in FinTech Consulting, Accounting & International Taxation. I enjoy being a Social, Foodie and Father of two young children, reachable at

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