At Stafford and Rural Homes (SARH) we are committed to providing all our customers with the best possible service. We aim to get things right first time, but we know that sometimes we get things wrong. When this happens we want to know so we can put it right.

You can complain if you think:
• We failed to do something we should have done
• We did something wrong, or to a poor standard
• We have been unhelpful in dealing with a request from you

You can make a complaint by:
• Speaking to one of our staff at our office
• Phoning us on 0800 111 4554
• Writing to us – download a feedback form

Our commitment to you

We aim for our complaints process to be:
• Easy to access and available for all customers to use
• Efficient
• A positive experience with clear communication throughout

What to expect when making a complaint:
• Acknowledgement of your feedback within 1 working day of SARH receiving it
• Your complaint will be handled quickly, professionally, fairly and confidentially
• We will keep you informed of progress and how to take your complaint further if you are not happy

SARH has a two stage formal complaints process. However, our aim is to resolve any dissatisfaction informally when logging comments at Stage 0. It is the aim of this policy that most complaints are successfully resolved as quickly as possible at Stage 0.

What is a complaint?

SARH definition of a complaint is “an expression of dissatisfaction, however made, either verbally or in writing about the standards of service, action or lack of action affecting an individual customer or group of customers”.

Complaints should only be used in instances where we have done something wrong or have failed to do something.
It is not an initial request for a service, for example, reporting anti social behaviour. This would initially be dealt with as an enquiry. An example such as this would only become a complaint if we did not deal with this efficiently and effectively.

SARH Complaints Policy - Stage 0 (informal complaints)

Stage 0 complainants generally express dissatisfaction about a service or suggest an improvement. These issues will be dealt with informally.

A SARH representative will contact the customer regarding issues raised and resolve issues/queries as quickly as possible, usually within 1 working day.

SARH Complaints Policy - Stage 1

If a complaint cannot be resolved at Stage 0 and/or further investigation is required, a formal complaint is raised (Stage 1).

An appropriate SARH representative will make contact within 1 working day to discuss the complaint and seek agreement on the way forward.

An acknowledgment letter will be sent within 1 working day outlining a brief description of the complaint, timescales to respond and confirming the name of the person appointed to handle the complaint.

The complaint will be investigated, and a full written response will be issued once the investigation is complete and within the agreed timescale confirmed with the complainant.

SARH Complaints Policy - Stage 2

Complainants wishing to escalate their complaint to Stage 2 will be asked to provide evidence of issues they feel have not been considered or resolved at Stage 1.

An acknowledgement letter will be sent within 2 working days via the PA to the Chief Executive. The letter will confirm the complaint and agree a mutually convenient time for the panel and the complainant to meet. Please note, the complainant does not have to be present for the complaint to be reviewed by the Complaints Panel.

Stage 2 will involve a review of the complaint by a Complaints Panel. The panel is made up of the Chief Executive (CE) and two Board members, at least one of which is a Customer Board member.

Following the panel meeting a full written response will be issued within two working days confirming the outcome of the meeting.

This is the end of SARH internal procedure. The decision will advise of this and explain what external routes are available should the complainant still wish to pursue the matter.

The Independent Housing Ombudsman

If you are still not satisfied after all 3 steps of the SARH complaints procedure have been followed, you have the right to take your complaint to the Independent Housing Ombudsman.

SARH is a member of the Housing Ombudsman Service and complainants may approach the Ombudsman direct, but they must allow eight weeks from the date of the Stage 2 letter before the Ombudsman will consider the case.

The Independent Housing Ombudsman can be contacted at PO Box 152, Liverpool L33 7WQ. Telephone 0300 111 3000. Alternatively, you can visit the website at www.housing-ombudsman.org.uk.

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Have you tried our Frequently Asked Questions? See www.sarh.co.uk/faq