The government is set to backtrack on plans to bar tenants from taking their complaints to the Housing Ombudsman Service.
The government on Monday will seek to amend the Localism Bill to allow tenants to approach the ombudsman with their complaints in some circumstances.
As it stands the Localism Bill, which is currently going through the House of Lords, would prevent tenants from taking their complaint to the ombudsman.
Instead, tenants would have to approach a councillor, MP or tenant panel, known as the ‘democratic filter’ with their complaint, who could then refer it to the ombudsman.
On Monday communities and local government minister Baroness Joan Hanham will move an amendment to the bill which will allow tenants to take their complaint to the ombudsman without using the democratic filter if eight weeks have elapsed since the landlord’s internal procedure has been exhausted.
The amendment will also allow tenants to go the ombudsman if the ‘democratic filter’ does not refer the complaint to the ombudsman.
The move is a victory for tenants who feared they would be effectively barred from taking their complaints to the ombudsman.
Rafael Runco, deputy ombudsman, said he was pleased with the amendment. He said: ‘This clearly means that a complainant will have control over their case, apart from the first period of eight weeks.’
Emma Burnell, campaigner for the National Housing Federation, said: ‘We are delighted that the government has listened to the concerns of tenants and the federation and has ensured there is still the ability for tenants to directly access the ombudsman.’
Labour peer Baroness Dianne Hayter will seek to change the government amendment to reduce the period after which a direct complaint can be made from eight to six weeks.