If tenants believe their housing provider has broken the Code they are signed up to, they are entitled to make a formal complaint using the form below, and this process is open to tenants, ex-tenants, a parent or relative representing the tenant or former tenant, students unions, universities, or local authorities.

In the first instance any complaint that an aspect of the Codes have been breached should be raised with the accommodation provider directly and using that provider’s own complaints process where relevant. This resolves most issues.

Where parties experience any difficulties in accessing such procedures, they should contact the National Codes for assistance.

Where such an action does not result in the breach being resolved, then a formal complaint should be made to the National Codes. The accommodation provider will be contacted by the Codes Complaints Investigator and invited to respond to the allegations that they have breached the Codes. This process resolves the majority of issues that have not been resolved in the first instance.

Should a resolution to the matter/s not be achieved following this process, then the complaint will be referred to the Chair of the Tribunal.

The complaint must state clearly:

  • the name(s) and contact details of the complainant(s)
  • when the tenants informed the provider of the alleged breach and what steps, if any, the provider took to resolve it
  • the section(s) of the relevant Code the complainant believes has been breached   

Upon receiving the complaint the National Codes Administrator will check that it fulfils the above criteria and then acknowledge receipt of the complaint. 

Once a complaint is received the owner of the property will be written to, informing them of the complaint and giving them 14 working days in which to respond. 

Generally, it is hoped that reporting a complaint about a property of an owner who has signed the Code voluntarily will result in that owner taking any necessary remedial action immediately.

COMPLAINTS UNDER THE NATIONAL CODES ABOUT RENT REFUNDS

In order to assist both tenants and accommodation suppliers in this area it is important to be transparent about how these complaints will be dealt with.

Just as the Coronavirus pandemic was unforeseen, so there is no direct provision made for its effects within any of the National Codes. The Codes work by outlining members’ obligations which suppliers then voluntarily sign up to and then seek to enforce those undertakings. It is not possible simply to insert additional obligations that relate directly to the pandemic.

Complaints specifically about rent refunds because of the effects of the pandemic on academic institutions therefore fall outside of the current Code provisions. In respect of the ANUK/Unipol National Codes these do not address matters relating to contractual obligations of landlords or tenants, as these are subject to statutory law.

The complaints system can be used in the following areas:

  1. matters relating to mis-selling or not providing contracted services. Where services have been closed to be in line with Government advice then this will not constitute valid grounds for complaint.
  2. setting unreasonable conditions for tenancy options. This would particularly be the case if a room had to be vacated in a period when Government “stay put” advice was in place
  3. unnecessarily rigid and inflexible conditions being set by a supplier in matters relating to the tenancy which fail to appreciate the individual circumstances of the complainant.
  4. any student making a complaint in this area will be asked if they think they have any exceptional circumstances where their case should be considered individually by a supplier. If the Codes Complaints Investigator feels that the exceptional circumstances merits individual consideration they will forward these to the supplier for such consideration and it is expected that these representations will be properly considered and responded to in a timely manner by the supplier. Exceptional circumstances must relate to the individual circumstances of the complainant, they cannot simply state a sense of entitlement that contracted rent should not be charged in the light of the pandemic.

These areas all fall within Clause 1.0 “Business is pursued in a professional, courteous and diligent manner at all times.” but other clauses also apply.

There are some timescales within the Code giving maximum times of response.

 “Where disputes arise with tenants, managers will ensure that:

 8.0 They accept contact from tenants (or their authorised representatives) by any appropriate method including telephone calls, e-mail or face-to-face discussions;

8.1 They respond reasonably and promptly to tenants or their representatives. Where a parent of a tenant is making a complaint then the tenant will confirm in writing that this constitutes their representative;

8.2 They make written response to any correspondence from tenants or their representatives within three weeks of its receipt;

8.3 The response they make confirms the actions they propose to take and the overall timetable they aim to achieve;

8.4 Any settlements or agreements reached are honoured within three weeks of the settlement being agreed;

8.5 The closure of disputes is recorded to provide a clear audit trail of the actions taken to resolve the dispute;

8.6 They maintain courteous professional relations with tenants during any dispute.”

The Government have given advice on rent payments and what to do if there are problems and these have been specifically related to student housing by the Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan. This information can be found under RENT REFUNDS AND PAYMENTS at https://www.nationalcode.org/news/information-and-advice-on-coronavirus-in-student-accommodation-for-housing-suppliers

 Students can also get advice from their students’ union or educational institution, which may be in a position to advocate on their behalf.

Submit a complaint online

Alternatively a complaint can be submitted in writing and addressed to:
The National Codes Administrator
c/o Unipol Student Homes
155-157 Woodhouse Lane
Leeds LS2 3ED

Complaints can be received from tenants or former tenants of the property concerned, a person representing the local authorities, a person representing the universities and/or their students unions, a parent or relative representing a tenant or former tenant, the company secretary of Unipol Student Homes, and the Vice President (Welfare) of NUS (but only in respect of general issues relating to the Codes).

NB: Parents and relatives should attach to the complaint form the written authorisation of the tenant/former tenant on whose behalf they are complaining. If the complaint is being made by any person other than the tenant or former tenant then every effort should be made to have the complaint endorsed by the person/s who have been affected.

Complaints cannot be submitted more than six months after the end of the tenancy/letting agreement.

Click here for a flowchart on the formal Complaints Procedures.

Once a complaint has been received, it is checked to see that it meets the above criteria, an acknowledgment is sent and the operators of the development are written to and informed of the complaint. They are given14 working days to respond. It is hoped that, generally, when an owner receives a complaint, they will act to resolve matters straightaway. However, if it can’t be resolved in this way, then details of the complaint will be referred to the Tribunal. The Chair and the two Vice-Chairs of the Tribunal discuss which course of action is most appropriate. They either:

  • deal with the matter themselves or
    refer the matter to the full Tribunal for a decision.
  • In most cases the matter will be dealt with by the Chair and Vice-Chairs in the first instance. They may then decide to refer it to the full Tribunal. If a complaint is considered very serious (for example it has serious health and safety implications) then it is referred as a matter of course to the full Tribunal. 

If the complaint is referred to the full Tribunal, the complainants will be sent further details of the procedures under which the Tribunal operates. Tribunal hearings are held in the town or city where the development is located. Complainants are expected to attend but, if this is not practical, they can make their case through written submission.
 
Although either party may, with the express agreement of the other party, be accompanied by a representative at the Tribunal, neither the owner nor the tenant is permitted legal representation.
 
Tribunals are heard within one to three months of the referral to Tribunal. If either the owner or the complainant cannot attend within three months, the hearing will take place in their absence.
 
The Tribunal has formal powers to remedy problems identified through upheld complaints. These do not, however, include the power to make monetary awards.

A range of further documentation on the Complaints and Tribunal System is available here:


Complaints form (PDF)
Complaints and Tribunal System 
Recent complaints/tribunal outcomes 
documentation