The Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman is there to make sure the service provided by public bodies in Northern Ireland is fair and efficient.
You can complain to the Ombudsman if you believe the Housing Executive or your housing association has handled your case poorly or treated you unfairly.
Before contacting the Ombudsman
Before you can complain about your landlord to the Ombudsman you will normally need to complete the internal complaints procedure.
You can make a complaint to the Ombudsman if you have been through every stage of the internal complaints procedure and you haven’t got a satisfactory answer. The Ombudsman’s website explains how you can make a complaint.
Issues that won’t be investigated
The Ombudsman won’t investigate if
- you make your complaint more than 6 months after completing the organisation’s complaint procedure
- you could take your case to a tribunal
- you could have gone to court or have already begun legal action
- the Ombudsman believes the action or decision you are complaining about was reasonable
- your complaint is about government policy
- your complaint is about private health care
If your complaint is about the usage of the Data Protection Act or the Freedom of Information Act it may be more appropriate to complain to the Information Commissioner. The Ombudsman should explain why it cannot investigate if your complaint is rejected.
Making a complaint
If you are complaining about a Housing Association or the Housing Executive you can make the complaint online, in writing or by telephoning or emailing the office of the Ombudsman. Complaining in writing is usually more effective than making a complaint over the telephone.
Your complaint will need to include details of
- the organisation that you are complaining about
- the incident which you are complaining about
- how the incident has affected you.
After you complain
The Ombudsman will investigate your complaint. She will usually write to the organisation involved, summarising your complaint and asking for its comments on the matter. An investigating officer may interview you and anyone else involved in the complaint. At this stage the investigating officer will write to you to let you know if the Ombudsman intends looking into the case further.
It can take months for the Ombudsman to complete a full investigation. Once the investigation is over the Ombudsman will contact you to let you know what her recommendation is.
The Ombudsman’s recommendation
If the Ombudsman believes you have been treated unfairly or the organisation has failed to act effectively he will recommend that the organisation take certain steps to solve the problem.
He could ask the organisation to apologise to you or could ask the organisation to pay you any money that you have directly lost out on because of its decision. You won’t get any financial compensation for stress or other emotional trauma.