The complaints process Providers can be held to account for sub-standard services through an independent complaints procedure, which is available for the use of 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. 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. 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 Tribunal Chair, who is independent of the membership of the Codes, will determine how the complaint will be dealt with and by whom. The Tribunal is also the final stage of the complaints process and its decision will be regarded as final. 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 Complaints must submitted online or be in writing and addressed to:The National Codes Administratorc/o Unipol Student Homes155-157 Woodhouse LaneLeeds 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, relatives and representatives 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 given 14 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 orrefer 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 Complaints Under the National Codes about Rent Refunds Students have been given details of the complaints system operated by all three approved Codes and the number of complaints in this area has increased. In order to assist both tenants and accommodation suppliers it is important to be transparent about how these complaints will be dealt with. In respect of the ANUK/Unipol National Code for Non-Educational Establishments the Code does not address matters relating to contractual obligations of landlords or tenants, as these are subject to statutory law but the complaints system can and will be used in the following areas: matters relating to mis-selling or not providing contracted services 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 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. Anyone making a complaint in this area is 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 and seriously considered and responded to in a timely manner by the supplier. Responses should avoid simply referring to internal policies and should seek to address the exceptional circumstances being claimed.