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Make a complaint

Your feedback is really important to us and helps us improve what we do. We’re committed to providing a good service. Whether it’s good or bad, we want to hear what you have to say. It’s okay to complain. If you’ve raised concerns about an issue with our service and it hasn’t been dealt with quickly and effectively, please let us know that you remain dissatisfied.

You can make a complaint by:

It's okay to complain

Frequently asked questions about how we deal with complaints

A service request is a request by you asking for us to take action to put something right. Service requests are not complaints, but we record them, monitor, and review them for learning and improvements.

If you express dissatisfaction with our handling of a service request, we will raise a complaint, even where the service request is ongoing.

‘A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction, however made, about the standard of service, actions, or lack of action by the landlord, its own staff, or those acting on its behalf, affecting a resident or group of residents.’

You don’t have to use the word complaint for it to be treated as such. If you’re unhappy with our service, we want to hear about it and we’ll give you a choice about how it is dealt with.

Examples of complaints are set out below:

  • We repair something wrong or badly
  • We don’t do something that we promised to do or should have done, for example we don’t place a repair order that you made, or we don’t turn up for an appointment we made
  • Our staff behaviour is not acceptable
  • We don’t provide a service within our specified times
  • We fail to communicate as we promised
  • We fail to meet our legal duties
  • We don’t manage reports of anti-social behaviour
  • We give wrong or misleading advice
  • We don’t act within agreed policies, procedures, or service standards
  • We delay in undertaking work which cannot be explained within the terms of policy and procedure
  • We display bias or inequality of treatment

Ways to contact us

We’ll always try to make it easy for residents to complain by providing different ways to contact us.

 A complaint can be made in any of the following ways:

  • By emailing us at customerservices@berneslaihomes.co.uk
  • By visiting our website and completing an online form
  • By telephone on 01226 787878
  • In writing to Customer Services, Berneslai Homes, PO BOX 627, Barnsley, S70 9FZ
  • In person to Berneslai Homes staff
  • By a third party or representative (e.g. family, friends, Local Authority Councillor, MP, Board Member, Mayor’s office). (We deal with normal day to day enquiries from councillors through a separate procedure)
  • By social media (to maintain the resident’s privacy we will ask for details to be sent in private messages)

Yes! If we’re contacted by a third party or representative including family members or friends, we’ll establish with them how the resident would like to progress. Once we have established the need for a service request or a formal complaint, we would obtain permission from the resident they’re representing. We would not ask for permission if the representative was a Local Authority Councillor, MP or from the Mayor’s office because they have the resident’s contact information, summary of issues, and are acting in the capacity of their role. This shows they have implied consent. We would however still establish whether the contact from the Local Authority Councillor, MP or from the Mayor’s office is an enquiry, service request or are they representing the resident to make a complaint.

We will not consider complaints in the following circumstances:

  • Where the issue giving rise to the complaint occurred more than 12 months ago, or the resident became aware of it more than 12 months ago. We may apply discretion where the resident was unable to make the complaint earlier (for example health grounds) or where the complaint raises safeguarding or health and safety issues
  • Where legal proceedings have started. This is defined as details of the claim, such as the Claim Form and Particulars of Claim, having been filed at court
  • Where the issue being raised should be dealt with under any statutory review procedure including but not limited to decisions made under the terms of the Lettings Policy or our Tenancy Policy. More information about the review process for these policies is on our website. Where a resident makes a complaint that should be dealt with as a review, we will confirm with the resident the process that we will follow
  • Where the matters have previously been considered under both stages of this complaints policy
  • Where a claim arises relating to alleged damage of belongings or personal injury, these are investigated through the Insurance route by Barnsley Council
  • Where a complaint has been pursued in a way that we determine is unreasonable
  • When a resident repeatedly makes serious allegations that employees or contractors have committed criminal, corrupt, or perverse conduct without any evidence

If we decide not to accept a complaint, we will provide a detailed explanation to you within 5 working days setting out:

  • The reasons why the complaint will not be dealt with under our Complaints policy;
  • Any individual circumstances we considered in making our decision; and
  • Your right to take that decision to the Ombudsman

Each complaint is considered on an individual basis, we don’t take a one size fits all approach when excluding complaints.

We record and report on any complaint that we have excluded from our complaint’s procedure.

Once we’ve received a complaint, we’ll contact you within 5 working days to discuss and clarify the points of your complaint and make sure that we deal with complaints on their merits and give you a fair chance to set out your position.

We’ll use this information to assess the complexity of your complaint to decide if an extension to the standard timescale is needed. We also identify whether there is any conflict of interest we need to be aware of before allocating the investigation to an officer. 

We have two complaint stages and will acknowledge your complaint at each stage. Our acknowledgement letter will contain the following:

  • The complaint stage
  • Our understanding and definition of the complaint
  • All aspects of the complaint we will investigate
  • Any points we are excluding and the reasons why
  • The outcome that the resident has told us that they are seeking
  • Any reasonable adjustments we have mutually agreed
  • The expected timescale in which we will respond
  • How to contact the Housing Ombudsman if we are aiming to respond after 10 working days
  • How we will keep the resident informed if we find that we are unlikely to respond in time
  • How to contact the investigating officer
  • The link to the complaints policy

All staff are trained and have responsibility for recognising complaints. They make sure that if they're not responsible for handling the complaint that they support you by referring the complaint to the appropriate person quickly and explaining to you the next steps.

Staff with responsibility for complaint handling (Investigating Officers)

We have a pool of officers (including contractor leads) with the appropriate level of training and responsibility to investigate and respond to complaints at Stage 1 and Stage 2. 

Customer Services Team

We have a small team of specialist staff who co-ordinate and oversee our complaint handling service.  They are responsible for the following:

  • Developing and reviewing this policy and procedures
  • Completing the Annual Self-Assessment against the code
  • Performance monitoring and reporting
  • Gathering resident feedback
  • Offering specialist support and guidance to investigating officers
  • Stage 2 investigations

We will support the needs of our diverse residents by making reasonable adjustments to our complaint handling processes, which could be a physical change or change in work practices to avoid any disadvantage to a resident in accessing this policy. Examples of reasonable adjustments include the following: 

  • Provide information in appropriate alternative formats (e.g. large print, coloured paper, Braille etc.)
  • Communicate through a representative
  • Allow more time than we would usually for someone to provide information we need (where it is lawful to do so)
  • Provide additional support such as a sign language interpreter or translator
  • Use plain language or Easy Read service
  • Meet residents in person in a suitable location that meets their needs
  • Support comfort breaks or rest breaks during meetings
  • Respond to complaints in a shorter timescale

This policy is published on our website, and residents can do the following:

  • Change colours, contrast levels and font size
  • Zoom in up to 300% without text spilling off the screen
  • Access the policy from a smart phone, tablet, laptop, or PC

We will investigate the issues you have raised by doing the following:

  • We will consider whether we have complied with any legal duties
  • We will consider whether we have followed our own policies and procedures
  • We will talk to staff members who have been involved in the case
  • We will review evidence we have on record or supplied by the resident
  • We may need to request further information from the resident or other person involved

We will post or email the response letter within 10 working days. There may be occasions when due to the complexity of the complaint, we need extra time to investigate. Should an extension to the standard timescale be needed we will inform you of this and the reasons. Where possible we aim to do this at least 2 working days before the deadline. Any extension must be no more than a further 10 working days without good reason. If the extension is not acceptable with the resident, you can always contact the Housing Ombudsman to discuss this further. We will provide you with the Housing Ombudsman contact details in all complaint correspondence letters.

The stage 1 response will contain:

  • The complaint stage
  • The details of the complaint (complaint definition)
  • The decision on the complaint
  • The reasons for the decision/s
  • The details of any actions we will take to put things right including timescales for this
  • Details of how to escalate the matter to stage 2 if the resident is not satisfied with the response


We respond to a complaint when we know the answer to the complaint, not when we complete the actions required to address the issue.

Where you raise additional complaints during the investigation, we incorporate these into the stage 1 response if they are related and the stage 1 response has not been issued.

Where we have issued the stage 1 response, the new issues are unrelated to the issues already being investigated or it would unreasonably delay the response, we log the new issues as a new complaint. 

Where something has gone wrong, we’ll acknowledge this within the response letter and set out the actions we have taken or intend to take to put things right.

These can one or more of include the following remedies:

  • Apologising
  • Acknowledging where things have gone wrong
  • Providing an explanation, assistance or reasons
  • Taking action if there has been a delay
  • Reconsidering or changing a decision
  • Amending a record or adding a correction or addendum
  • Providing a financial remedy
  • Changing policies, procedures, or practices

Any remedy we offer will reflect the impact the failing has had on you. In our response we will set out what will happen and by when and we will, where appropriate, agree this with the resident.

Where we are offering financial remedy, we will follow our Compensation Policy which we have developed in accordance with the Housing Ombudsman remedies guidance.

If you remain unhappy with our response to your complaint at stage 1, you can request to escalate the complaint to stage 2. 

We encourage residents to let us know as soon as possible, no later than 4 weeks from the date of the stage 1 response. We may apply discretion where the resident was unable to escalate the complaint earlier (for example health grounds) or where the complaint raises safeguarding or health and safety issues. When you ask us to escalate to stage 2, we will contact you to discuss your complaint further and acknowledge the complaint in writing within 5 working days.

We ask you to tell us why they are dissatisfied with our stage 1 response.  Some examples are below:

  • You don’t think we responded to the issues they raised in your complaint
  • You do not agree with our decision at stage 1 of your complaint and want to give reasons for this
  • You have new or relevant information that may change the decision we made in our stage 1 response

If we have tried to contact you to discuss the complaint further but have no response, or if you’re unable to explain why you’re not satisfied with the stage 1 response, we will investigate and review the complaint based on the information we have.

The person investigating the complaint at stage 2 will not be the same person that investigated the complaint at stage 1.

If we have accepted the complaint and responded at stage 1, we would only refuse to escalate the complaint to stage 2 for either of the following reasons:

  • If the complaint should not be looked at further because it could compromise legal proceedings to do so
  • If it has now become clear that this complaint has previously fully exhausted the complaints process

In most cases, it’s the Customer Services Team who will lead the investigation on behalf of the Executive Management Team. An Executive Director or Head of Service is responsible for the final response at Stage 2.

We will investigate the issues raised and provide a written response by post or email within 20 working days from the date of our acknowledgement. There may be occasions when due to the complexity of the complaint, we need extra time to investigate. If we need an extension to the Stage 2 standard timescale, we will inform the resident of this and the reasons, where possible at least 2 working days before the response is due. Any extension must be no more than a further 20 working days without good reason. If the extension is not acceptable with the resident, the resident can always contact the Housing Ombudsman to discuss this further. We will provide the resident with the Housing Ombudsman contact details in all complaint correspondence letters.

 The stage 2 response will contain:

  • The complaint stage
  • The details of the complaint (complaint definition)
  • The decision on the complaint
  • The reasons for any decisions we have made
  • The details of any actions we will take to put things right including timescales for this
  • Details of how you can escalate the matter to the Housing Ombudsman if you remain dissatisfied

We respond to a complaint when we have the solution to the complaint, this isn't always after we have completed the actions needed to resolve the problem. These may be planned in for a future date. 

Our final response to you will be in writing and will be the end of our complaint’s procedure. After a complaint has gone through both stages of our complaint's procedure, and you remain dissatisfied, you can complain to the Housing Ombudsman. They will investigate fairly and impartially. 

The role of the Housing Ombudsman is to encourage and assist landlords and tenants to resolve a dispute at the earliest opportunity.

You can contact them to talk about your concerns and see if they can help in this way at any point before or during the complaint process.

You can contact the Housing Ombudsman directly by:

The Housing Ombudsman asks that we complete an annual self assessment against the code, publish the results, and take appropriate steps to make sure complaint handling is in line with the code. You can read our latest self-assessment below.

Barnsley Council have delegated complaint handling to Berneslai Homes under the terms of our services agreement. Barnsley Council have responsibility for making sure we handle complaints in line with our policy and that in doing so we are compliant with the Housing Ombudsman Complaint Handling Code.

The Barnsley Council Cabinet Spokesperson for Regeneration and Culture has lead responsibility for governance of and assurance that our complaint policy and practice align to the Housing Ombudsman Code. They receive and respond to our:

  • Annual self-assessment against the code; and
  • Quarterly performance and learning reports.

They provide a response to residents and the Housing Ombudsman on behalf of Barnsley Council.



We promote a positive complaint handling culture. We encourage staff to use complaints as a source of intelligence to identify issues and introduce positive changes in service delivery.

At the closure of each complaint the investigating officer is responsible for reviewing the complaint, looking beyond the circumstances of the individual complaint to identify any learning.

The investigating officer will complete a ‘Service Improvement Review Form’ to record any learning and actions.

The Customer Services Team will record all learning on the Service Improvement log, and they’re responsible for monitoring service improvements through to implementation.

We report on lessons learnt in the following ways: 

  • Residents through regular updates on our website, social media and in our annual reports
  • Involved residents through our Service Improvement Panel Group which meets every 3 months
  • Staff through regular team brief updates and training
  • Executive Management Team, Board, Customer Service Committee and the Council through sharing our quarterly performance reports which includes key performance indicators
  • Board through quarterly update reports to Customer Services Committee and an annual report direct to Board
  • The Council through quarterly update reports at Services Core Group Meetings. This is a meeting of senior executives of Berneslai Homes and Barnsley Council, the Cabinet Spokesperson for Regeneration and Culture (Member responsible or complaints) and tenant representative. The purpose of this meeting is to make sure Berneslai Homes is delivering services in line with the requirements of our contract
  • The Council through reports to Cabinet

We welcome complaints and promote a positive complaints handling culture within Berneslai Homes. You can find out more about how we listen to and learn from complaints on the 'Check our performance' page here. 

If you want to make a complaint about services delivered by a contractor, you can either make a complaint directly to the contractor or to us. The complaint will be dealt with in line with this policy and you will not be expected to go through two complaints procedures (ours and the contractors). If the complaint is complex and/or involves different service areas, then we do not expect the contractor to lead on responding. We’ll respond on behalf of all parties. Where a contractor leads on responding they will do this in line with our Complaints policy and have received training to enable this to happen. Where contractors respond to a stage 1 complaint, they will make the resident aware of their right to escalate to stage 2 and that we (Berneslai Homes) will have responsibility for the final response. We also monitor the quality of contractor responses.

All complaints about high rise buildings will be dealt with in line with our Complaints policy.

Following the introduction of the Building Safety Act 2022, residents in high-rise buildings can complain to the accountable persons and the principal accountable person about the building risks for example:

  • Their communications to residents
  • Responses to raised concerns
  • How they manage building safety risks

Residents can also raise concerns about building safety risks, which are structural safety issues and spread of fire issues. For example:

  • Flammable cladding on the outside of a building
  • Fire doors or smoke extraction which are not working or missing that may increase the risk of fire spread
  • Failure of the building’s structure, such as parts of the building collapsing,
    cracks, or parts of the building falling off.

The Fire and Asbestos Compliance Manager will be made aware of any complaints that relate to high rise buildings and will investigate and respond to the resident at stage 1 of this procedure.

The accountable persons and principal person in the Building Safety Project Board will have oversight of all stage 1 complaints. Stage 2 complaints will be investigated by the accountable persons and principal person in the Building Safety Project Board. If the resident is not satisfied with our procedure, they can refer a complaint to the Building Safety Regulator. 

If you express dissatisfaction with services when completing a satisfaction survey, we do not automatically treat this as a complaint. All surveys clearly outline how to make a complaint if you wish to do so.

We publicise this policy on our website in a format that can be downloaded, printed, or zoomed in.

A shorter, easy to read summary of the key parts of this complaint policy, including how to make a complaint and what to expect is also available on our website.

We have posters displayed on the notice boards within the communal areas of our buildings across the borough. We also provide all new tenants with a ‘New Tenant Information Pack’ at sign up. This pack gives details about how to make a complaint, our complaints policy and the Housing Ombudsman’s contact details.

We promote residents to stay connected with us and provide us with their email address to receive communication from us which includes our monthly Ebulletin and annual report. In these publications we include information of the complaints policy and our complaints performance.

We use social media platforms to publicise the complaints policy, encouraging residents to let us know if somethings gone wrong and give us the opportunity to put things right. The key message we share with residents is that ‘It’s Okay to Complain’.

Listening and learning from complaints

We welcome complaints and promote a positive complaints handling culture within Berneslai Homes. You can find out more about how we listen to and learn from complaints on the 'Check our performance' page here. 


Make Things Right campaign

The UK Government have launched the 'Make Things Right' campaign to make sure that social housing residents who are struggling to resolve their problems and need support, are aware of how to make a complaint.

For more information please visit the Make Things Right campaign website. 

If you want to know more about the way the way we look after your personal information, please readourprivacy promise here.


Registered address:

10th floor, Gateway Plaza, off Sackville St, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, S70 2RD

Berneslai Homes Limited is a company controlled by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council. A company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales, number 4548803