How to Complain
Thinking about making a complaint about a landlord or agent? Find out more here
Code landlords have agreed to resolve problems reasonably and promptly, so follow our tips to get your issue sorted.
For tenants/students or their representatives
For members of the community
1. If you are a tenant, let your landlord/agent know about the problem - if you discuss it verbally stay calm and make sure to send an email afterwards to confirm what you agreed. Here are our tips for writing the email:
2. Not fixed within a reasonable timeframe? Email your landlord to remind them that you’ve still got a problem, and ask for a resolution.
3. If still nothing has been done, make a complaint to the landlord. Do this in writing, again being factual, accurate and fair - and ask for a reply within 7 days. State that you will make a complaint to Unipol if action is not taken. Most complaints are resolved at this stage.
4. If you’re not happy with the response, or you don’t receive one - let us know. Check that your landlord/agents is a member of the Unipol Code. Even if your landlord is not a Unipol Code member, we may still be able to give you advice on what to do next or where to find support.
5. If your landlord is a Unipol Code member, complete the online complaint form and provide supporting evidence. We’ll review everything you’ve submitted, and if we have everything we need, will contact your landlord with details of the complaint, and ask for a response within 7 working days. If we’re concerned about the standards of the property itself, we’ll carry out an inspection within 10 days.
6. We’ll work with you and your landlord to try to resolve the complaint, but if this is not possible it will be referred to the Unipol Code Tribunal. The Tribunal is an independent body which will look into your complaint and the landlord’s response, and decide if they have breached the Code. The Tribunal cannot award compensation or settle legal arguments.
Further information is available here
Other Sources of Support for Students:
In addition to Unipol, other organisations who can offer assistance to students experiencing issues with their landlord/agent, find details here:
For Members of the Community
1. Members of the community can use the complaints procedure for matters relating to anti-social behaviour. These complaints relate to sections 6.00 and 6.01 of the Code. Community members can also report other matters (for example disrepair, environmental areas, use letting boards etc.) to Unipol who may choose to complain directly to the landlord with a view to resolving those issues. In some cases we will ask the complainant to also report certain matters to relevant statutory authorities and may join with them in that report.
2. You may not know whether the landlord of a particular property is a Code landlord so just email us with the address or use web chat and we can let you know.
3. If the landlord is a Unipol Code member, then a Code complaint should be made directly to Unipol and we will contact the landlord with a view to resolving any matter. Even if the landlord is not a Unipol Code member, we may still be able to give you advice on what to do next and where to get support.
4. The complaint should be made in writing and must refer to a particular property or properties and the complaint must be about some specific behaviour or problem. Try to be factual, accurate and fair. We will reply to you within 7 days of receiving your complaint during which time we will contact the landlord and raise the matter with them.
5. We will pass any response to you. If we are concerned about the property we will inspect the property within 10 days and draw up an action plan to remedy problems within what we regard as a reasonable time scale.
6. We’ll work with you and the landlord to try to resolve the complaint, but if this is not possible it will be referred to the Unipol Code Tribunal. The Tribunal is an independent body which will look into your complaint and the landlord’s response, and decide if they have breached the Code. The Tribunal cannot award compensation or settle legal arguments but a member can be suspended (which would affect all of their properties) and the outcome, if the complaint is upheld, gives rise to poor publicity and sometimes further action from enforcing authorities, for the landlord.
Further information is available here
Other Sources of Support for Members of the Community:
Leeds City Council Environmental Health Services: 0113 222 4406 // email@example.com
Leeds City Council Anti-Social Behaviour Team: 0113 222 4402 // firstname.lastname@example.org
Universities and Colleges Neighbourhood Helpline (a 24 hour dedicated voicemail and email service) that responds within 24 hours to those experiencing any problem living in the community (such as uncollected rubbish, neglected gardens, noisy neighbours, illegal parking and other environmental problems) on 0113 3431064 or email email@example.com
Bradford Metropolitan District Council Environmental Health: 01274 434 366
Bradford Metropolitan District Council Noise Nuisance: 01274 434 366
Nottingham City Council Environmental Health: 0115 915 2020 // firstname.lastname@example.org
Nottingham City Council Community Safety Team: 0115 915 2020 // email@example.com
University of Nottingham Neighbourhood Helpline: 0115 846 8666
How to Complain - Further Information
It is a key part of any accreditation scheme that there is a proper complaints process which is simple, transparent, rapid and known. The complaints process is basically the same whichever of our Codes the landlord has signed up to and the process follows a number of steps:
Try to resolve the issue directly with the landlord (if you do not know who this is move straight to the next step)
If this fails contact Unipol
Unipol works with you and the landlord to try and come to a resolution
If the problem cannot be resolved then the matter is referred to an independent Tribunal
The Tribunal upholds or rejects the complaint and makes a recommendation
Making a Complaint to the Landlord or Unipol
You will need to put this in writing (but it’s fine to talk first) because this means that you will be able to refer back to it should you need to. It is worth reading through the Unipol Code to see if there are any items that relate to your problem that you can reference directly (in the case of a community complaint this will be Section 6.00).
If the landlord is a Code member, they have agreed to abide by the items in the Code - find out if they are a member here. If your landlord isn’t a member, the Code will still provide you with some guidance on what is reasonable to expect.
If you do not know who the landlord is or you are unable to resolve the issue directly, Unipol may be able to help. Where a landlord is a Code member (there’s a list here) you can submit a formal complaint. Note that complaints do need to relate to an item/s of the Unipol Code.
You can submit a complaint online here
The complaints procedure is not just for current tenants; you can submit a complaint if you fit into any of these categories:
A tenant of the property concerned (or a representative with written authority from the tenant)
An ex-tenant of that property(or a representative with written authority from the tenant)
A member of the community with access to the Code
A member representing the Local Authority in which the landlord or property is based
A member representing the University or Students’ Union, sitting as a stakeholder within the relevant Unipol Sub-Committee
The Company Secretary of Unipol Student Homes
Unipol works with you and the landlord to come to a resolution
Upon receiving the complaint we will contact you to confirm receipt and then contact the landlord with details of the complaint. When we write to the landlord we give them seven working days to respond.
We may choose to inspect the property as part of our investigations, which will be done within ten working days of the complaint being received.
Often, reporting a complaint about a property of an owner who has signed the Code will result in that owner taking any necessary remedial action immediately. However in the event that this does not happen we will send you details of the landlord’s response. We will work with you and the landlord to try to come to a resolution, but if we’re unable to reach a satisfactory outcome we will refer the complaint to the Tribunal.
The Tribunal is an independent body that considers Code complaints where the parties have not been able to reach agreement about a dispute.
The Chair of the Tribunal is notified of the complaint and makes a decision as to whether it should be referred to the Fast Track Tribunal or the Full Tribunal. In the interim, the Chair may decide to suspend an owner/agent from membership of the Code, pending a hearing of the Tribunal. This is referred to as Chair's Action.
The Fast Track Tribunal
This consists of the Chair and two Vice Chairs. The Fast Track Tribunal sets a meeting cycle annually, and meets every two months in order to minimise delays. To find out more about the membership of the Tribunal click here ; the next meeting dates are as follows:
Thursday 26th January 2017
Tuesday 28th March 2017
Tuesday 6th June 2017
To be confirmed
Tuesday 16th March at 2pm
Tuesday 23rd May at 2pm
Wednesday 22nd June at 2pm
The Fast Track Tribunal can itself decide to refer a complaint or parts of a complaint to the Full Tribunal.
The Full Tribunal
The Tribunal is designed to be the final resort in a serious dispute. It is expensive to administer and sits only when important. Tribunal hearings will be heard within eight working weeks of the procedure being triggered. If either the landlord/agent or the complainant/s cannot attend within eight working weeks then the hearing will take place in absentia of that party. To find out more about the membership of the Tribunal click here.
The procedures of the Tribunal are clearly defined to ensure consistency and fairness. For more details of the procedures please click below:
Leeds Bradford Nottingham National Codes
The Tribunal can take one of four decisions:
Request additional information and reconvene at a later date to consider the complaint
Uphold the complaint
Make a recommendation to other parties
Reject the complaint
The Tribunal can make recommendations to all statutory bodies, educational institutions and all other appropriate parties. In the event that a complaint from a student was malicious a recommendation from the Tribunal to the institution in respect of its disciplinary procedures would be likely.
The Tribunal can recommend whatever they wish but generally this falls into the following categories:
A warning letter to the relevant party
The suspension of a landlord or owner from the Unipol Code for either a specified period of time or indefinitely (6 years), and conditions set for the lifting of that suspension. The suspension can be for an individual property or for any number of properties or for the owner / agent themselves
The setting of conditions for continuing membership of the Code
The suspension of a landlord/agent from using Unipol’s services
The issuing of a press release detailing the complaint and its outcome
Any decision of the Tribunal will be confirmed in writing within five working days of the meeting and is made public on the Unipol website. For details of previous Tribunal decisions click here.
Any complaints concerning deposit deductions relating to tenancies which are protected by the Tenancy Deposit Protection Schemes should, in the first instance, be dealt with through the scheme's own Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process. The outcome of that process is final and is not reviewable by the Tribunal, although the outcome from this process can be used as part of the narrative of any other complaint that may be being made.
If the complaint relates to matters of how the deposit was administered, including allegations of failure to protect the deposit, then a complaint may be submitted to Unipol in the standard manner, using the complaints form above. In general, these complaints will be dealt with under the Fast Track Tribunal, but if the number of complaints received against the same landlord/agent exceeds 5, then the matter will be dealt with by the Full Tribunal.
Unipol/TDS Deposit Protection Scheme
Unipol and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) have come together to offer a deposit protection scheme just for Code landlords in Leeds, Bradford or Nottingham.
If your landlord is part of the Unipol/TDS scheme then a dispute can be raised - by either party. Where it is not possible for disputes to be resolved informally between the landlord/agent and former tenant/s, then the dispute will be referred to a Disputes Panel for adjudication. Full details of the disputes process that relate to that scheme can be found below:
Unipol/TDS Deposit Protection Scheme - Leeds
Unipol/TDS Deposit Protection Scheme - Bradford
Unipol/TDS Deposit Protection Scheme - Nottingham
If your landlord/agent is a Code Supporter, you can also submit a complaint online. We’ll look to see if it relates to a property that they have individually accredited under the Code - if it is, then the complaint will be dealt with in the same way as it would if the agent were a full Code member. If the property has not been individually accredited, we can still investigate the complaint within the terms of the agreement we have with the agent - which relate more to the management areas of the Code.
If your landlord or agent is not a Code member or Code Supporter, it’s not possible for you to submit a complaint under the Code, but there are still ways to get help. See our advice pages for more information, or try contacting your Student Union advice service.