Compensation policy

Part of the Trust’s Customer Care Framework Level 2 policy approval - VERSON 1 Approved 7 February 2017

1. Statement of Intent

1.1 The Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust aims to provide the highest standards of service at all times to all of our residents and customers. However, the Trust recognises that there may be times when residents or customers may suffer some disadvantage or loss as a result of its actions, errors or mistakes and that in some instances compensation may be the most appropriate form of remedy.

  • This policy outlines the circumstances under which compensation will and will not be considered and the principles covering any such determinations

  • This policy provides a consistent basis for assessment of the loss and / or costs incurred when compensation is sought

1.2 This policy ensures that the Trust meets its regulatory and statutory obligations to ensure that residents, housing applicants and others have ready access to an effective compensation policy, which is administered efficiently. The Trust will apply this policy in conjunction with the Compensation Procedure that has been produced to support this policy.

1.3 This policy does not replace the Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust’s legal liabilities arising from public liability claims which are covered by the Trust’s insurance policies.

2. Overarching Principles Applied

2.1 The Trust will adopt an evidence based approach and will generally not make any compensatory awards based “on the balance of probability”.

2.2 The Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust will consider payment of compensation in the following circumstances:

2.2.1 Where we have a statutory obligation e.g. Home Loss, Payment for Improvements.

2.2.2 Where there has been a failure to meet agreed standards of service laid out in Trust policy documents which have resulted in considerable inconvenience.

2.2.3 Where damage to property or belongings has been caused by the direct action or inaction of the Trust (subject to prior knowledge).

2.2.4 Where a resident has lost the use of part of their home and where the Trust is responsible.

2.3 The Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust will not consider payment of compensation in the following circumstances:

2.3.1 Where loss or damage has been caused by a resident, family member or a visitor to the premises.

2.3.2 Where maintenance employees or contractors have been unable to gain access to carry out a repair in the designated timescale or where service failure is the result of extreme or unforeseen conditions (such as weather conditions) but where the Trust has taken all reasonable steps to restore services or facilities under the prevailing conditions.

2.3.3 Where a resident’s possessions are lost, stolen, broken or damaged through no fault of the Trust’s as in for example, cases where damage has been caused by floods, fires, leaks etc… Residents should ensure that they have home contents insurance to cover them in these circumstances.

2.3.4 Where the loss has not been reported within a reasonable timescale – generally the timescale will be within 28 calendar days of the incident occurring.

2.3.5 Where improvement works or repair works to a property will unavoidably result in low levels of damage to property or belongings e.g. holes left in carpets, other floor coverings or ceilings as a result of installing new radiator pipes, fitted carpets having to be taken-up etc.

2.3.6 Where compensation is being sought for repair or accidental damage to any resident improvements that have not been approved by the Trust i.e. laminate or natural wood floor coverings, the install or removal of internal doors etc.

2.3.7 Where a re-arranged appointment or need to undertake a follow-on appointment could not have been anticipated and results in a resident having to take time-off of work to allow access resulting in loss of earnings or leave entitlement.

3. Outline of Policy

3.1 The overarching principles applied under this policy are:

3.1.1 In the first instance, the Trust or its contractors will seek to make good any damage for which it was responsible.

3.1.2 Each claim will be considered on an individual basis taking into account all relevant known facts and supporting evidence supplied e.g. invoices receipts etc.

3.1.3 Any offers of compensation will depend upon the circumstances of each case and will be linked to the extent of the loss or damage caused or to any fixed payable amounts as defined in the compensation policy and procedure.

3.1.4 If the Trust and the claimant differ on facts and interpretation the Trust will try to reach an agreement with the claimant but the final decision will rest with the Trust.

3.1.5 The Trust reserves the right to make compensation payment directly into a claimant’s rent account in cases where the claimant may owe money to the Trust e.g. rent arrears.

3.1.6 Other forms of compensation other than monetary awards may be offered where this is deemed more appropriate such as decorating vouchers in a claim where damage to décor has been agreed.

3.1.7 In some circumstances discretionary payments or “goodwill gestures” may be made by the Service Manager. Such discretionary payments will generally be of low value and along with goodwill gestures may take the form of a bouquet of flowers, box of chocolates, vouchers or be delivered in the form of an additional or extra work package. Any such payment or gesture does not imply any acceptance of liability on the part of the Trust.

3.1.8 Where a resident is claiming compensation as a result of poor service provision the claim must be accompanied by the submission of a formal complaint.

3.1.9 In the event that a contractor or representative has caused damage, the resident is at liberty to seek compensation either by direct contact with the contractor or via the Trust if not satisfied with the response received from the contractor or representative either through the Trust’s Resident Liaison Officers or by using the Trust’s complaints procedure.

3.1.10 All offers of compensation are made without prejudice which means that the offer of compensation cannot be relied upon as proof of liability. If an offer of compensation is accepted, then the payment is made in full and final settlement of the claim for compensation against the Trust.

3.2 Claims for compensation should be made in writing, where possible completing a compensation claim form. Claim forms can be requested from the Trust directly or by downloading from the VAHT Website – www.vaht.co.uk

4. How will the Policy be Implemented

4.1 This policy will be implemented throughout the Trust. The Trust will ensure that the compensation policy and procedure is well publicised both internally and externally.

4.2 Each Trust service area is responsible for considering compensation claims that fall within their area of responsibility and for determining any awards that may be made based on the application of this policy and the supporting compensation procedure. The supporting procedure also contains an appeals process in instances where the claimant is not satisfied with the Trust’s initial determination.

4.3 In compensation claims where a personal injury or accident claim is being made; these will be directed to the Trust’s insurance company and dealt with outside of this policy and procedure.

5. Monitoring

5.1 The Trust has an internal framework for regularly analysing and reporting on compensation claims. Compensation levels arising from complaints are regularly reviewed and the results reported to Senior Management and the Board.

5.2 An annual compensation budget is set and every effort made to manage compensation payments within that budget.

6. Value for Money

6.1 The Trust recognises that there will be occasions when customers may suffer some disadvantage or loss as a result of its action, errors or mistakes. In some instances it may be appropriate to compensate but residents will have no automatic right to compensation. This policy and supporting process will ensure that the levels of any compensation made will be consistent and proportionate to particular circumstances.

6.2 The Trust in line with Value for Money principles will not view compensation as a “quick fix” but will address the causes of actions and processes that give rise to potential compensation claims being made.

6.3 The Trust is able to attach standardised compensatory amounts that can be applied consistently in certain circumstances for example compensation for a missed appointment. Such standardised amounts are applied wherever appropriate and are considered non-negotiable.

6.4 The Trust does not operate a new for old policy. Any compensation made in cases of damage to property or belongings will be based on the original cost of the items and depreciated over the life of the item.

7. Equality and Diversity

7.1 All compensation claimants will be treated fairly, equally and with respect regardless of their gender, race, age, disability, faith, marital status, sexual orientation or any other distinction.

7.2 If a claimant wishes to receive information in a different format e.g. large print or on audio tape or requires information in an alternative language or requires the services of a translator, this can be facilitated.

8. Consultation

8.1 This policy and the supporting procedure have been subjected to review by Service Managers, Senior Management Team and the Executive Management Team.

8.2 The Resident Forum has also been consulted on this policy and supporting procedure.

8.3 This policy and procedure have been drafted in line with the Trust’s vision and values incorporating sector good practice and statutory guidelines. Private sector comparators and commercial market prices have been analysed and used to determine standardised payment amounts.

9. Monitoring

9.1 Compensation payments or goodwill gestures made in association with formal complaints will be logged into a central database and this information used as part of the complaints service annual report.

9.2 Compensation award levels as well as standardised amounts will continue to be scrutinised to ensure that they are reasonable and proportionate to the distress and inconvenience experienced.

10. Review

10.1 This policy will be reviewed every three years, unless amendment is prompted by a change in legislation, operational requirements or market forces.

10.2 Any review will seek to ensure that the policy and procedure are clear, effective and easily accessible and that all relevant legislation and regulations are reflected. 

11. Legislation and other documents

11.1 The HCA’s Regulatory Framework makes it a requirement that customers, housing applicants and others have ready access to an effective complaints and compensation policy, administered effectively. The Housing Ombudsman Service also shares this expectation.

11.2 Legislation relevant to this policy and supporting procedure:

  • Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and 1995

  • (Housing Corporation) Circular 33/94 – Right to Repair and Right to Compensation for Improvements

  • Housing and Regeneration Act 2008

  • Leasehold reform, Housing and Urban development Act 1993.

11.3 Trust policies relevant to this policy and supporting procedure:

  • Complaints Policy

  • Repairs and Maintenance policy

  • Decant Policy

  • Equality and Diversity Policy

Policy author details
Author Andy Padmore
Job title Business Improvement Manager
Email andy.padmore@vaht.co.uk
Phone 01296 732635