Ombudsman investigating reports of noise complaints

The social housing ombudsman has launched a systemic investigation into noise complaints and is expected to issue a report later this year.

The investigation is exploring how social landlords manage reports of noise nuisance and what drives complaints about how those are handled. It will enable the Ombudsman to make recommendations and share best practice across the sector – helping landlords to develop their services and improve the experience of residents.

The service has determined 848 complaints relating to noise over the last three years and identified maladministration in 41 per cent of cases. A call for evidence from social landlords and their tenants was made earlier this year and closed in mid May.

The lines of enquiry for the investigation include:

  • How do policies around noise work in practice?
  • How do landlords work with other agencies?
  • What is successful in mitigating for/dealing with inherent modern noise?
  • What is successful intervention?

As well as survey responses, the Ombudsman will draw on insight from its own casebook and from Resident Panel members, together with fieldwork in five landlords of varying size, type and location and their residents. It hopes this breadth of approach will ensure it can make far-reaching recommendations that promote greater understanding of the complexity of tackling noise complaints.

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “Noise complaints can have a particularly significant impact on residents causing deep frustration and stress, and it’s an area that also presents difficult challenges for landlords.”

“We are keen to examine all aspects of noise related complaints and particularly how complaints are managed under anti-social behaviour policies. The statutory thresholds can be high and result in a lengthy process for residents while they may continue to experience the disturbance.”

“Our investigation will examine the relationship between anti-social behaviour and noise transference from our unique and independent perspective, so we can share best practice and learning across the social housing sector.”

The Spotlight reports are part of our ongoing commitment to share insight from our casework and use our systemic powers to investigate beyond individual disputes to drive learning and improvements for the benefit of all residents. All reports are available on the Ombudsman service’s website.

Patrick Mooney, Editor