There are about 2,500 bodies registered with the Housing Ombudsman Service (HOS) owning and managing 2.5 million properties. The majority of these are registered social landlords (RSLs—housing associations registered with the Housing Corporation). It is a condition of the Housing Act 1996 that all RSLs are members of an approved housing ombudsman scheme. There are also a small number of members which are private rented sector landlords (just under 100) who join on a voluntary basis. The remit of the HOS does not cover councils or local and central Government agencies.
The HOS does not keep statistical information broken down by the body against whom a complaint is made. The HOS received the following number of complaints in each of the last 10 years.
Total cases received 1998 1,303 1999 1,153 2000 1,861 2001 2,275 2002 2,208 2003 2,112 2004 2,395 2005 2,852 2006 3,063 2007 2,895
Total cases received
This includes cases received which were not subsequently considered to fall within the housing ombudsman’s remit and those which were dealt with using mediation and other forms of dispute resolution. The HOS deals with most disputes in a conciliatory manner, using a range of alternative forms of dispute resolution as well as working with landlords and tenants through prevention initiatives to sustain and improve their relationship.
Formal investigations account for a minority of the work considered by the housing ombudsman. The average percentage of investigations into cases over the 10-year period has been 14 per cent., of which 27 per cent. resulted in findings of maladministration and 77 per cent. non-maladministration (although in the latter cases, the ombudsman frequently makes recommendations for improvements to the bodies involved).
The number of cases considered by the HOS has increased over the last 10 years. The number of properties within the housing ombudsman’s remit has doubled over this period and awareness of the service and that of member landlords’ own complaints procedures has increased resulting in the higher volume of complaints submitted to the HOS.