Customer Service Charter
We believe that our customers are central to our business.
Our customers are people who live in our homes or neighbourhoods or who have applied to live in them.
Our main aims are to make sure that:
- all aspects of our everyday business are built around meeting our customers’ needs;
- we provide the highest standards of service possible with the resources available to us;
- everybody can have a say about what we do; and
- we are accountable to people who use our services.
We will meet these aims by achieving the following standards:
- We will routinely identify our customers’ needs, and provide services that meet those needs.
- We will regularly ask you for your views on our services.
- We will make it easy for you to give us your comments and complaints.
- We will listen to your feedback, pass it on to the right people, and take it into account when we make decisions.
- Our staff will be polite and treat you with respect. (We expect the same from you.)
- We will keep to all laws and best practices that are relevant to our services.
Our approach and method
We will develop policies and procedures that meet the aims and standards set out above.
We will develop an action plan and service promises to make sure we meet our aims and standards.
We will make sure that all our staff and committee members know their obligations, take responsibility for meeting them, and have the training and resources they need to do so.
Our services to you
We aim to provide the best possible customer service at all times. To help us do this, we have set ourselves standards in eight main areas. These standards are our ‘service promises’. They let you know what you can expect from us. We will set targets for each of the service promises so that we can check and report on our progress every year.
1 Equal opportunities
We will make sure that everybody has full access to our houses and services where possible.
We will improve equal opportunities by:
- keeping to equal opportunities laws;
- making sure our offices have access for wheelchair users and facilities for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, or have speech difficulties, or do not use English as their first language;
- making sure we are fair when granting tenancies;
- providing and managing homes for people in need of housing; and
- collecting and monitoring information to make sure that nobody is treated unfairly.
2 Keeping in touch
We will set standards and time limits for handling your enquiries.
- make sure our offices are always clean and welcoming, with areas where customers can speak to us in private;
- deal with you in a polite, friendly and professional way;
- answer phone calls quickly during office hours;
- take a message if the person you want to speak to isn’t available, and make sure you get a response to your messages on the same day or the next working day;
- contact you within five working days to confirm that we have received your letter or email;
- send you a full reply to your letter or email within 10 working days, or tell you when we will be able to give you a full response;
- keep any appointment we arrange with you, and call you straight away if we need to make new arrangements; and
- arrange for you to see someone within 15 minutes of you calling into the office (although this may not always be the person you want to see if you do not have an appointment).
3 Rent and service charges
We will keep you well informed and take action quickly.
- give you a statement, showing a breakdown of your rent and service charges at least once a year;
- answer questions about your rent or service charges as quickly as possible;
- take prompt action when you have not paid your rent or other charges;
- take all reasonable steps, including legal action when necessary, to recover overdue rent;
- give you information about where you can get advice from when you get into debt; and
- make sure you have up-to-date information about what we and other relevant local organisations do.
4 Repairs and maintenance
We will set and check standards, act on your feedback, and offer advice.
- carry out all repairs, and our planned and regular maintenance work, in line with our repairs policy;
- meet our legal duty to make yearly gas-safety checks and service gas appliances in our homes;
- ask you to fill in and return repair satisfaction slips, and get back to you as quickly as possible if your slip shows that you were unhappy with our performance;
- monitor our services by visiting and phoning 10% of the homes that have had repairs or maintenance work done to check the standard of the finished work;
- make sure all the contractors we use keep to our code of conduct;
- carry out a programme of major repairs to make sure our homes meet the Scottish Housing Quality Standards; and
- offer you advice on simple home repairs that you are responsible for.
5 Offering new tenancies and transfers
We will make it clear how we offer properties, make sure you know about other housing options, and rent out our empty homes as quickly as possible.
- produce clear guidelines for the way we decide who moves into our properties and how we prioritise transfers;
- let out empty homes as quickly as possible;
- publish details of our lettings in our annual report; and
- provide you with information about other housing opportunities.
6 Supporting our communities
We will respond to complaints quickly, and work with community groups and other organisations.
- respond to neighbour disputes quickly by taking appropriate action or offering advice;
- help community groups to assess the needs of their communities;
- help communities to meet identified needs through our housing activities; and
- help communities get access to funding or support from other organisations that will support projects that benefit them.
7 Keeping you informed and involved
We will offer you more ways to be involved and make it easier for you to let us know what you think.
- set up various ways for you to be involved in what we do;
- provide practical support and training to community groups who want to be more involved with housing issues;
- hold meetings with tenants’ or residents’ groups every year;
- try to involve under-represented groups;
- make sure all our information is in plain English;
- make information available in other formats and languages if you ask us to;
- make sure you can get access to interpretation and translation services during office hours;
- produce two newsletters for our residents each year;
- give all our tenants and homeowners a handbook; and
- produce an annual report that sets out our performance.
8 Complaints and appeals
We will make it easier for you to understand our complaints procedure and make sure you know how to make a complaint.
- have a clear and understandable complaints procedure;
- make sure you can get information about our complaints procedure;
- put things right if we have not followed our own rules properly; and
- give details of how we have dealt with complaints in our annual report.
- What we expect from you
- We expect you to be polite, let us into your home to carry out repairs, let us know about any problems you have, respond to our letters, respect your community, and know what your responsibilities and rights are as a tenant.
- We expect you to:
- be polite and friendly with us;
- turn up for meetings when arranged, or let us know when you can’t make them;
- respond to our letters, emails or texts as quickly as possible;
- let us know if you are getting into problems so that we can help you sort them out;
- pay your rent in full and on time;
- keep your home in a good condition, and report repairs that need doing;
- let us into your home to carry out urgent repairs and carry out any inspections we need to make;
- not cause a nuisance to anyone living near you; and know what your responsibilities and rights are as a tenant
TPAS Landlord Accreditation
Albyn Housing Society became accredited by the Tenant Participation Advisory Service (TPAS) in March 2011, concluding an in depth assessment of our tenant participation strategy. During the assessment, TPAS met with and facilitated focus groups with residents and staff of Albyn Housing Society and were impressed with the feedback received.
TPAS made the following comments:
“TPAS accreditation is awarded to landlords that demonstrate a first class approach to involving and working in partnership with tenants and residents. It is a thorough assessment of how effectively landlords are communicating with, listening to and responding to their customers’ comments. In meeting the competencies of TPAS accreditation, Albyn Housing Society has demonstrated a commitment to the principles of resident participation that other landlords around the country can learn from.”
As a TPAS accredited landlord, Albyn has received a glass display award and will be entitled to display the ‘TPAS Accredited’ logo on our letterheads and stationary for 3 years. Achieving the accreditation award provides recognition for the hard work carried out by our tenant representatives and staff and we would like to thank all those that took part.
Advice & Information
Our Housing Advice and Information Remit
What advice and information service we provide
We aim to provide the best possible customer service at all times. Providing high quality advice and information to customers is important to make sure we can deliver good quality services to you.
Where we provide services from
The services are provided mainly by our Customer Services teams. They are provided from our offices in Invergordon and Inverness. Services are available from Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, other than on public holidays or occasional training days.
Officers work with customers to identify the issues they need help with. They will discuss options and agree an appropriate course of action. They will provide advice and assistance that take individual needs into account. If necessary, they will refer customers to another organisation that has particular expertise to help.
What we provide housing advice and information on
Across the organisation, our staff provide mostly ‘Level 1’ advice (that is, providing information and explanation and signposting to specialist advice) in at least fifteen of these areas of housing law. Some staff also provide ‘Level 2’ advice (that is, more detailed casework) in a smaller number of specific areas of law. We achieved accreditation for Level 1 advice provision during 2009:
We provide advice and information to tenants, housing applicants, and in some circumstances to people referred to us from another organisation. Our aim is to make sure that these customers understand their housing rights, responsibilities and options. We will do this by providing advice and information about housing issues and providing practical assistance. This includes explaining decisions, writing letters and completing forms.
The topics of housing law that we provide advice and information on are:
– Rent Arrears
– Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit
– Disrepair in Rented Housing
– Housing Options
– Anti Social Behaviour
– Harassment and Illegal Eviction
– Relationship Breakdown
– Private Sector Renting
– Security of Tenure
– Statutory Tenancy Rights
– Repair and Improvement Grants
How we provide housing advice and information
Case work will be carried out by telephone conversations; face to face at our offices; and where necessary by appointment at your own home. We will also provide written information in emails, letters, leaflets, handbooks and newsletters, and on our website.
Making sure we reach the high standards
We have achieved accreditation for the Scottish Advice and Information Standards.
The standards provide a quality framework for all services that provide housing and housing related advice and information. They include performance indicators and competency requirements for nineteen different areas of housing law at different levels.
The standards will help us to:
° Make sure that we are providing clear and accurate information to our customers
° Identify gaps and to constantly improve the services to our customers
° Help us to be clear about our limitations and to develop our work in partnership with other ‘expert’ agencies where required
Following on from tenant feedback, we now only produce a summary version of the Annual Report, and it is only available online at the link below.
Please contact our Corporate team if you would like a copy of this summary document posted out to you (email: corporate team).
Residents satisfaction survey 2012 report
To download the report from the Residents satisfaction survey 2012, please use the link below:
Please click on the links below to access policies, procedures and statements:
Our regulation plans
Every year the Scottish Housing Regulator provides us with a Regulation Plan. The Plan sets out the engagement that the Regulator will have with us during the year.
These Regulation Plans are available as below: