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Complaining about a housing association or cooperative

This page gives you some tips and advice on complaining about a housing association or housing cooperative (also known as registered social landlords or RSLs).

What can I complain about?

If you've been dealing with a housing association or cooperative, you can complain about anything you're not happy with. You can complain if you've applied for housing from a housing association and feel you've been treated unfairly during the application process, and you can also complain if you're already a tenant.

For example, you may want to complain about:

  • bad or unsatisfactory service you've received as a tenant or potential tenant
  • the state of your accommodation (if you're already a tenant)
  • unfair treatment
  • problems caused by other tenants of the housing association.

Who should I complain to?

All housing associations should have a formal complaints procedure in place and information about this procedure should be easily available. For example, this information may be:

  • on the association's website
  • displayed in the reception area of their offices
  • included in official documents such as your tenancy agreement or tenants' handbook.

If in doubt, contact the housing association, explain that you want to make a complaint and ask what to do next. You can find contact details on any official documents you have from the association, or in the Scottish Housing Regulator's list of Registered Social Landlords.

If the housing association is being difficult and won't tell you how to make an official complaint, you should get advice as quickly as possible. Our Advice Services Directory can point you in the direction of an agency that can help.

How do I complain?

It's best to make your complaint in writing. This will give you the opportunity to set out exactly what you want to say and make your point clearly. In your letter you need to explain:

  • what you're complaining about (for example, unfair treatment or antisocial neighbours)
  • when the problem arose and what steps you have taken so far to sort it out (for example, have you contacted the association before about this problem, and if so, when did you do this and what was the response?)
  • what you would like the housing association to do to put the problem right.

Ask the association to send you a response in writing within a certain time period (for example, two weeks) and make sure you keep copies of any letters you send to or receive from the agency.

If you're not sure what to write, an adviser may be able to help you with your letter. Use the Advice Services Directory to find help near you.

How do I complain about repairs?

If your complaint is about repairs or safety issues, read our section on repairs in council and housing association accommodation for more information on what to do.

What if a housing association is discriminating against me or harassing me?

There are various courses of action open to you if you feel a housing association has discriminated against you because of your gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, or because you're disabled. This may be the case if, for example, you believe an association has refused to let property to you for a discriminatory reason, or is treating you less favourably than other tenants, or if staff at the housing association have been harassing you in any way. The section on discrimination and harassment explains this in more detail.

What if I'm not happy with the response?

If you've followed the complaints procedure within the housing association but you're still not happy with the outcome, you may be able to complain to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO).

Scotland map Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.
This content applies to Scotland only.
Get advice if you're England

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