Complaint Handling Code

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Complaint Handling Code

Last updated: October 2022


Our Ombudsman sets out their recommended way to deal with complaints in their Complaint Handling Code

We've chosen to do a check every year to make sure we are following the Code, to report on any changes we've made to improve our processes, and to record what we plan to do in the future. Keep scrolling to see find out more about what the Complaints Handling Code says and what we did in the last financial year to make sure we are following it: 


For a quick summary, please scan our self-assessment checklist.

Defining what counts as a complaint

The way we define a complaint matches the Housing Ombudsman. A complaint is:

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.

We want to get things right first time so you have an excellent experience when you're dealing with us. If you think that hasn't happened, then we want to know. Without knowing where things are not going well, we will struggle to keep improving what we do or to understand what you expect from our services.

Making a complaint is important.

We use complaint feedback along with other customer feedback to make improvements to our services - find out about this here. We analyse trends and these help us to create our Service Improvement Plan.

If something hasn't met your expectations, we want to know.

You can find our complaints process on this website - click here.

All our staff have had complaints training. We have a Customer Ethos which sets out the way we should behave when handling complaints.

Our Customer Ethos says we should always:

  • Be honest
  • Actively listen to our customers
  • Take ownership of every contact
  • Deliver a personalised and inclusive service
  • Look for ways to do things better

Being accessible

There are lots of different options available if you need to make a complaint. You can choose the method that suits you.

You can send in a complaint:

  • In person (subject to government covid restrictions)
  • On the phone
  • Via the myB3Living app
  • Via email
  • Online (see here)
  • By letter
  • Using an advocate
  • Or you can ask B3Living staff for help

The team and the process

We need to make sure we have the right process and people in place to resolve complaints.

We take a service-led approach. This means that each team at B3Living manages their own complaints, rather than going through a different team.

When our Customer Community reviewed our policy, they felt that this was the right thing to do - see here for a summary of their feedback.

We do have a Business Improvement Manager who gives advice, has the authority to step in and help colleagues to resolve complaints, and acts as a contact for the Housing Ombudsman.

Our complaints process has two formal stages.

You can read about our process and timescales here, but we've made sure our timescales for responding/resolving a complaint match what the Housing Ombudsman recommends in their Complaint Handling Code.

If your complaint gets to the end of our process, we would then recommend the Housing Ombudsman's service. You might want to use their service if you're not happy with what we have decided or how we dealt with your case.

Our Customer Feedback Policy encourages our team to resolve a complaint (or any expression of dissatisfaction) at first point of contact. 

Telling you about the complaints process

Our policy says that we'll keep you informed and updated as you go through the process. Here is how we do this:

We start logging your correspondence as formal contacts. This means:

  • When you get in touch, we'll acknowledge this in 5 working days.
  • We'll assign a manager to your complaint.
  • We'll send a full response within 10 working days.
  • We let you know that you can challenge our response if you're not happy with it.

If you complaint has gone through through the formal stage 1, you can move into formal stage 2 if you tell us why you're not happy with the outcome of the first stage.

Then, we will:

  • Acknowledge your request to go to stage 2 within 5 working days.
  • Make sure a senior manager is dealing with your case.
  • They will review what's happened and investigate. They will decide if we should do anything else to resolve your complaint.
  • It may take a little time to investigate properly, but we'll respond in writing within 20 working days.

Working with the Housing Ombudsman

Last financial year, whenever the Housing Ombudsman asked us for evidence, we responded on time (according to our timescales and the Ombudsman's timescales). We want to do our best to be open and keep a good working relationship with the Ombudsman.

Being fair

To make sure we're being fair, you can complain through a representative if you feel more comfortable doing this. Our process allows this.

It's possible that we might refuse to escalate a complaint through our process. But this is rare and did not happen at all in the 2021-22 year.

Good outcomes and putting things right

Where something has gone wrong, we will apologise to you. Then we will take appropriate steps to put things right, working with you to do this.

Always look for ways to do things better

One reason we track complaints carefully is to make sure we are putting issues right when we can. Another is to make sure we are making improvements across the board, to reduce complaints in the future and improve the experience for our customers. Last year, we looked at previous complaints and improved a range of services. For example:

For more examples, visit our 'you said, we did' pages.


  • Services - we host joint meetings with senior management to review complaint performance and we have started to review trends in complaints at our new 6-weekly Customer Experience meetings.
  • Customer consultation – we reviewed our Customer Feedback Policy with our customers in 2021, making changes to incorporate their views.
  • Feedback / satisfaction – we have an annual survey monitoring customer satisfaction our complaints process. The survey itself was done by an independent organisation. In 2022, the results from 2021-22 and 2020-21 have been used to update our Customer Feedback Policy, complaints handling procedures and colleague training.
  • Communications / training – we've rolled out further training on the complaints process and latest updates to policy.

We share these lessons with our stakeholders through:

  • Our Annual Report to our customers.
  • Our email newsletters and magazines.
  • Performance reports shared with all B3 colleagues.
  • A Customer Experience paper that goes to our Board every quarter.
  • Sharing the results of our internal audits.

Our customer magazine has a dedicated article which highlights all the changes we have made following customer feedback (including from complaints).

After going through the Complaint Handling Code, we've made the following changes:

  • Our definition of a complaint now matches the Housing Ombudsman's definition in full.
  • We've amended our Policy and procedures so we match the timescales for stage 1 and stage 2 complaints (e.g. we now respond within 10 working days after a complaint moves into stage 1). We've also improved our advice on stage 1 complaints.
  • Our process has changed to remove the process for informal (stage 0) complaints.
  • We've made our guidance for customers around when they can go to the Ombudsman, being clear that they can contact the Ombudsman before we have responded.
  • We've given our colleagues more guidance and training on how to keep detailed records, what goes into a response to the Ombudsman, and your ability to contact the Ombudsman at any stage of your complaint.
  • We organised a satisfaction survey targeting people who made a complaint last year. We'll look at this feedback to see if we can improve the complaints process further.