What is a housing association?

Housing associations are not for profit organisations that rent and sell homes. They are usually set up to provide affordable accommodation that is cheaper than renting privately.

Housing association accommodation is also sometimes referred to as social housing. Social housing can be owned by both local authorities and housing associations so not all social housing is managed by housing associations.

Just like private tenants, housing association tenants are also entitled to certain rights and housing associations have legal responsibilities as landlords. Below you can find out more about your rights as a housing association tenant, when you can make a complaint and what to do if the complaints process doesn’t work.

Types of housing association tenancies

The rights you have will vary depending on the type of tenancy you hold. There are several different types of tenancies that housing association tenants may have, they include:

  • Starter Tenancy – This is often offered to new housing association tenants. They usually last 12 months and are used as a type of trial period. After 12 months you will become an assured or fixed-term tenant unless action to evict you has started or you are extending your starter tenancy.
  • Assured Tenancy – If you have an assured tenancy this usually means that you can live in your property for the rest of your life
  • Fixed-Term Tenancy – this type of tenancy usually lasts 5 years and your landlord can decide whether to renew it

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What is the complaints procedure against a housing association?

If you have an issue with your home or the service that your housing association is proving then you can make a complaint against them. There are several steps to the complaint process when it comes to housing associations.

Step 1 – You should start by following the official complaints procedure of your housing association, most housing associations should have this and you should contact them to find out more.

Step 2 – If following your landlords official complaints procedure has not worked then you could make a complaint about them to a designated person such as an MP, your local councillor or a tenant panel.

Step 3 – If your landlord has still failed to resolve the issue then you can take your complaint to the Housing Ombudsman Service. The Housing Ombudsman is a free service and they resolve disputes involving the tenants and leaseholders of social landlords and some private landlords who are voluntary members.

If your complaint is in relation to a health or safety issue then you could also complain to the council’s environmental health department.

If your complaint is in relation to a housing disrepair issue and your landlord fails to resolve the problem then you may be able to make a claim against them and you could receive compensation.

What can I make a complaint about?

All tenants are entitled to certain rights, this includes the right to quiet enjoyment of the property you live in. As your landlord, your housing association is also responsible for ensuring that your home is comfortable and safe.

You can make a complaint about your housing association if you feel that they are failing to uphold their responsibilities as your landlord, they are inflicting on your rights as a tenant or if you are unhappy with other elements of their service.

A few examples of the types of issues you could make a complaint about include:

  • Repairs and maintenance issues
  • Problems with communal areas of your property
  • Anti-social behaviour from other housing association tenants
  • Health and safety issues in your property
  • Customer service issues

Anti-social behaviour complaints

Housing associations have a responsibility to prevent anti-social behaviour and should do this by ensuring that communal areas are controlled and safe.

Your housing association should have a simple complaints policy for reporting anti-social behaviour that you can follow. They should also provide you with information about the help that you can get from other agencies such as the police or local authority.

If you have made a complaint about anti-social behaviour then your landlord may take non-legal action such as issuing warnings to people about their behaviour, advising other residents to remedy their behaviour or using support services such as the Supporting Families programme. Alternatively, they could also take legal actions such as civil injunctions and possession proceedings.

Taking your complaint to the Housing Ombudsman Service

If you have exhausted the other parts of the complaints procedure then you can escalate your complaint by taking it to the Housing Ombudsman. The Housing Ombudsman can also offer you independent advice about your complaint.

The Housing Ombudsman Service is the final stage of the complaints procedure, they can usually only consider your complaint when it has been at least eight weeks since your landlord’s final response to your complaint. You may be able to have your complaint investigated without waiting if you complain through your local MP, a councillor or a tenants panel and they refer it to the Housing Ombudsman.

You can complain directly to the Housing Ombudsman yourself using the online form available on their website. You can also contact them using the following contact details:

Email: info@housing-ombudsman.org.uk

Telephone: 0300 111 3000

If the Housing Ombudsman upholds your complaint then they may recommend that your landlord follows a certain course of action or pays you compensation.

Are you a Council or Housing association Tenant with housing disrepair issues?
If so we can help you claim compensation on a NO Win, NO Fee basis.

Can I claim compensation from my housing association?

If a complaint to your landlord has not worked and using the Housing Ombudsman as an Alternative Dispute Resolution also has not worked then you may want to consider taking legal action against your landlord.

It’s important to note that if you have started court action then the Housing Ombudsman is unlikely to take your case so you should make a complaint to them before taking any further action.

As your landlord your housing association is responsible for ensuring that your home is safe to live in and they must make sure that your home meets certain standards, this includes that:

  • The property is safe and free from ‘category 1 hazards’ – Category 1 hazards are things that pose a serious risk to your health
  • Your home is kept in a reasonable state of repair
  • Your home is equipped with reasonably modern facilities
  • Your home is warm enough


If your home requires maintenance or repairs and your landlord has not resolved the issues within a reasonable timeframe then you can make a housing disrepair claim against them. If their failure to make repairs has resulted in illness or injury then you may also be able to make a personal injury claim against them.

If you make a claim against your housing association the court could order them to make repairs and they may also order them to pay you compensation.

How can we help?

Our housing disrepair lawyers can provide you with guidance throughout the social housing complaints process. As a housing association tenant, you are entitled to certain rights, our housing law experts are here to ensure that your rights are upheld and that you have your voice heard.

Tenancy rights are a complex issue, but our experienced lawyers can offer you reliable advice about your legal rights and the best options for complaining about your housing association. If you are not satisfied with the response to your complaints then our team can help you to make a legal claim against your housing association.

We can also help you to make a complaint or a claim against a private landlord or local council. For more information about the services, we offer get in touch with our team today by calling us.

Frequently Asked Questions

You can complain to the Housing Ombudsman about a dispute with your housing association.

The Housing Ombudsman does not investigate the original problem that you have complained about but rather investigates how your landlord has dealt with your complaint in relation to the rights you hold as part of your tenancy agreement.

Yes, you can claim compensation from your housing association if they have failed to make repairs to your rental property. You can claim for damage to belongings, personal injury, financial loss and nuisance.

Yes, just like a private landlord a housing association also has responsibilities to ensure their properties are safe and fit for human habitation. This means that they are responsible for most major repairs and maintenance.