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Learning from when we get it wrong


Every Sanctuary customer has the right to live in a safe and good quality home. 

Most of our customers are satisfied with their home and the service we provide, but we don’t always get things right. As a learning organisation, when we get things wrong, we want to make sure we learn and improve. 

This page sets out our complaint performance and some of the associated service improvements we’ve made to put customers at the heart of our service. 

Learning from complaints 

Our complaint process is a safety net for customers who feel we’ve fallen short of the service they expect. While we would prefer to put something right before it becomes a complaint, we encourage residents to formally tell us if they feel we’ve got something wrong. 

Information about how to complain

We are a member of the Housing Ombudsman Service, an independent body that reviews and investigates complaints when customers remain unhappy with their landlord following the complaint process. 

We work closely with the Ombudsman and use the insights from rulings made against us to improve.

The figures shown below give a snapshot of our 2023-24 performance, plus the Ombudsman rulings we received.


Total number of repairs at Sanctuary

We completed 227,450 repairs in total

Number of repairs related complaints

We received 5,494 repair-related complaints

13 customers affected by maladministration

13 customers affected by severe maladministration

19 cases of severe maladministration against Sanctuary

19 counts of severe maladministration against Sanctuary

While a finding of severe maladministration is the outcome of a very small percentage of the complaints we manage, this low percentage doesn’t mitigate that we’ve let these customers down.    

We take the Ombudsman’s findings very seriously and investigate each case to find out what we need to do to improve.  

The key themes and trends from our severe maladministration cases are set out below. 

Handing complaints

What we learned

A number of our severe maladministration findings explicitly relate to how we handle complaints. This included poor communication with customers, taking too long to respond, not recording complaints properly, and not delivering on our promises. 

Residents from the Sanctuary Resident Panel discussing Sanctuary plans

What we’ve done about it

  • increased the number of people on our complaint-handling team and invested in more training to improve our customer service. 

  • put new processes in place to give our teams a much more detailed understanding of our open complaints, enabling us to resolve customer issues more effectively.

  • created a new Works Co-ordination team to manage issues until they’re resolved and we know the customer’s happy.  

  • commissioned an independent review of our complaint handling and the new measures we’ve put in place to make sure they meet customer needs.  

  • invested in new technology – we’ll be able to update you on the benefits this is bringing later this year. 

  • two dedicated new members responsible for complaints: Trudi Elliott and Nicole Seymour continually peer review our complaint handling service.

  • We have published our complaint insight report for 2023/24 and also our self-assessment against the Housing Ombudsman Service's complaint handling code.

Damp and mould 

What we learned

A few of the severe maladministration findings involved damp and mould issues. The Ombudsman said the poor level of service in these cases didn’t show enough concern for the residents’ well-being.

What we’ve done about it

  • In November 2022, we created our dedicated damp and mould taskforce to make sure we manage damp and mould cases quickly and effectively.

  • We have a zero-tolerance approach with a four-step process to identify, remedy, resolve and prevent damp and mould.

  • We’ve made sure our teams have the skills and knowledge they need to fix any damp and mould issues when they find them. 

  • Whenever customers contact us about damp and mould, we work with them to ensure we diagnose the problem early and tailor our approach to meet the customer’s needs.

  • We’ve worked with our customers to make sure the information we provide on damp and mould is as clear, relevant and useful as possible.

Read more about how we tackle damp and mould in our properties.

We carried out an independent review of our policy and practice after the Ombudsman made two severe maladministration findings for similar issues handling leaks, damp and mould. Read our report on the Ombudsman website.


What we learned

Several cases related to issues with repairs taking longer than reasonable to get resolved. This included repeated visits to diagnose the issue without a resolution for the repair. 

Sanctuary Maintenance employee standing proudly next to a Sanctuary branded van

What we’ve done about it

  • We are restructuring our repair service, with the focus on getting the repair right first time.   

  • All staff will be given customer service training informed by customer insights to make it as relevant as possible.  

  • We’ve increased the amount of money we spend on maintaining our homes to make issues less likely, and we plan to spend even more in the future. We invested £229 million, which is £36 million more in 2023 than in 2022 (a 19% increase) and our 2024 spend is even higher at £274 million, a further £45 million increase (20% year-on-year). 

  • We have developed new technology to improve our repairs process, giving residents much greater visibility. Piloted in Scotland, customers in England will be able to enjoy the same service improvements later this year. 

Improving the data we hold on our homes 

It’s important for Sanctuary to know the condition of our customers’ homes. This helps us plan investment where it’s needed and ensures the property meets the needs of the resident.   

We want to make sure we keep up-to-date, accurate records of the condition of our homes and have improved how we collect and use this data. 

As well as carrying our stock condition surveys, we use insight from our repairs and maintenance activity, compliance visits and energy performance reporting to enhance our understanding of each home we manage.   

Making good use of our data 

We regularly review the information we hold to see how we can make things better for you. We’ve launched multiple surveys this year that follow a customer interaction. We often receive this feedback in real-time, telling us what customers think at that moment. 

By analysing information from different sources, we can gain valuable customer insights, influencing how we work and how we deliver our services. We look to find key themes and trends from the complaints we receive, the repairs we carry out, and the feedback from our own satisfaction surveys. 

We’re also improving the information we hold about our customers. Our recently launched Sanctuary Census is enabling us to build a better picture and appropriately tailor our customer service. 

Listening to our customers

We value the advice and insight we get from the many customers who work with us to help us get better. 

Our engaged resident panels have doubled in size, and more than 5,000 customers now shape our services. 

Our yearly Tenant Satisfaction Measures survey tells us what’s most important to our customers. We’ll publish our results and an action plan soon, which sets out how we plan to improve. 

We’ve many ways for you to share your views on how we’re performing and where you think we need to improve. 

Find out how you can get involved.

Sanctuary customer group talking on a sofa

How we put our customers first

Sanctuary worked with our Resident Advisory Panel and more than 5,000 other customers on a framework to put you at the heart of all we do.

Our Customer Outcomes Framework is based on the things you told us you consider most important.

The framework supports a set of outcomes designed to make you feel proud, respected and safe. 

Each outcome has a clear measure to help us communicate how we’re performing and also where we need to improve. 

Quick links


View our complaints policy which explains more about what you can expect from us if you complain.

How we manage your complaints


Learn more about our repair process and how to request, cancel or reschedule an appointment.

Repairs processes and timescales

Damp and mould

Learn more about what you should do if you experience condensation, dampness and mould in your home.

Damp and mould remediation

Antisocial behaviour

Need help with antisocial behaviour in your neighbourhood? Read about how we can support you.

ASB support and advice