Letter of complaint checklist

You must have made your complaint known to the authority about which you are complaining before submitting the complaint to the ombudsman. The authority concerned must be given the opportunity to reply to your complaint and possibly offer a solution to your complaint.

The subjects and layout of a standard letter of complaint are given below. You can use these as a guideline for your own letter of complaint to a municipal organisation with which you are not satisfied.

If you are having trouble formulating your complaint, ask a family member or a friend to help you in drawing up the letter. It is in any case always good to have a trusted person read through and check the text. You can also ask an interest group to help you in this regard.

Layout Explanation
Sender Your name and address details followed by your telephone number and/or email address.
Recipient Make sure that the name and address of the organisation are correct. State the right department or contact person if you are aware of the department or contact person concerned.
Subject line Provide a clear and brief indication of your complaint using keywords. Sate the file number or citizen service number if doing so is relevant to the case.
City/town and date State the city/town in which you are writing the letter, this is usually the city/town in which you live, and the date on which you are writing the letter.
Salutation Start your letter with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ or ‘Dear Sir or Madam’. If you are aware of the name of the person or contact person to whom the letter is addressed, start with ‘Dear Mr’ or ‘Dear Ms’ followed by the surname of the individual concerned.
First paragraph Make the subject matter of your letter clear immediately. Be as precise as possible. If you refer to a certain event, state a place and date.
Second paragraph Describe your complaint or point of view regarding the problem as clearly and briefly as you can. State what the event in question means to you or how you experienced it. Limit yourself to the main points in this regard.
Third paragraph Make clear what you require from the municipality. In other words, make clear what the municipality must do to solve the problem.
Fourth paragraph Use this paragraph to provide any background information that you consider important in the context of the complaint. Such information may be about exceptional personal or aggravating circumstances, for example.
Conclusion Make it clear that you expect a reply from the municipality. Specify the term within which or date before which you expect the reply, if that is important to you.
Signature Close with ‘Kind regards’ and your signature followed by your name, which must be clearly readable.
Contact details If relevant, for instance if you will be away from your regular address for a significant amount of time, provide the contact details of your temporary place of stay to ensure that you can be contacted.
Enclosures If you send enclosures, specify the documents concerned and the number of pages. Send copies of the documents, never the originals. State your name and/or the file number in a clearly readable way on each page.