Complaints against social housing providers

Complaining about a private registered provider of social housing (PRPSH) via their own complaint procedure and the powers of the social housing regulator

This content applies to England

Social housing regulator action against registered providers

The social housing regulator can only take action against a registered provider in respect of significant, systemic and widespread breaches of the regulatory standards. The regulator does not deal with service-related complaints on behalf of tenants or groups of tenants and leaves this role to the registered provider and relevant Ombudsman. Information for tenants explains how to complain about a registered provider of social housing and the role of the regulator.

Complaining to the social housing provider

A tenant dissatisfied about the services of a registered provider should initially raise a complaint with the provider. All providers have responsibility for dealing with, and being accountable for, complaints about their services. All providers must have in place a clear complaints procedure and a statement about how they handle complaints, including complaints about performance against the standards.

Complaining to the Ombudsman

Tenants not satisfied with the way their landlord has dealt with their complaint should contact the Housing Ombudsman.

The ombudsman is independent and impartial, and the service is free of charge. They may look into complaints that a tenant has been treated unfairly or received bad service through some failure on the part of a provider.

Powers of the social housing regulator

Under the Regulatory framework for social housing, the social housing regulator is responsible for setting economic standards for private registered providers of social housing (PRPSHs) only, and consumer standards for all registered providers (RPs), including local authorities.

The regulator will take a proactive approach to compliance by PRPSHs in respect of the economic standards (Governance and financial viability, Value for money, and Rent standards). In relation to the consumer standards (Tenant involvement and empowerment, Home, Tenancy, and Neighbourhood and community standards) applicable to all PRPSHs, the regulator will intervene only where there is actual, or risk of serious harm to tenants.

Relationship between social housing regulator and housing Ombudsman

The Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023 introduced new provisions to strengthen the respective roles and improve the relationship between the regulator and the Ombudsman. The aim is to ensure a more joined up approach to regulation and the handling of complaints for the benefit of tenants, and improved exchange information powers.

The regulator and the Ombudsman are required to publish and review a memorandum of understanding outlining how they will cooperate together and how they will communicate and share information with one another.[1] The Secretary of State must consult the housing Ombudsman when setting standards and giving directions to the social housing regulator.

The housing Ombudsman can issue a code of practice on complaint handling about the procedures members of the scheme should have in place for considering complaints against them. It must consult with the social housing regulator when making amendments to its scheme.[2]

For more information about their respective roles and powers see the Regulator of Social Housing and Housing Ombudsman Service: factsheet on GOV.UK

Last updated: 20 September 2023


  • [1]

    s.5 Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023; reg.2 Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023 (Commencement No.1 and Saving Provision) Regulations 2023 (SI 2023/1001).

  • [2]

    ss.40-41 Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023.