New housing complaints resolution service will make redress scheme membership compulsory for all private landlords

Friday, January 25th, 2019 - MHCLG

Private tenants will have simple and quick access to help when things go wrong, according to new plans announced by Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP.

From broken boilers to cracks in the wall, the new Housing Complaints Resolution Service could help millions by providing a straight-forward way of getting help when faced with unresolved disputes about problems with their home – such as repairs and maintenance.

Unlike other sectors, such as financial services, the housing market has several different complaints bodies, with homeowners and tenants having to navigate their way through a complicated and bureaucratic system just to work out where to register a grievance.

The government intend to create a single housing complaints service to help people battling with their landlord or builder to resolve issues on their own and make it easier to claim compensation where it’s owed.

Whilst redress scheme membership backed by an independent Ombudsman is already a requirement for letting agents and property managers, there are no similar arrangements in place to protect tenants who rent directly from a private landlord, leaving thousands of renters without any course for redress.

To combat this, the Communities Secretary has today announced that private landlords will be legally required to become members of a redress scheme – with a fine of up to £5,000 if they fail to do so. At this stage, it is unclear which organisation or council department would take the lead enforcement responsibility.

The Housing Complaints Resolution Service will provide a single point of access to resolve complaints for housing consumers when ‘in-house’ complaint processes have been exhausted.

Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said:

Creating a housing market that works for everyone isn’t just about building homes – it’s about ensuring people can get the help they need when something goes wrong.

But all too often the process can be confusing and overly bureaucratic, leaving many homeowners and tenants feeling like there is nowhere to go in the event of problems with their home.

The proposals I have announced today will help ensure all residents are able to access help when they need it, so disputes can be resolved faster, and people can get compensation where it’s owed“.

Katrine Sporle, Property Ombudsman at TPO said:

The response to the Government’s consultation into strengthening redress in the housing market is largely positive. We welcome the opportunity by MHCLG to work collaboratively with the existing redress schemes (The Property Ombudsman, Housing Ombudsman and Property Redress Scheme) in the interest of all consumers to provide greater protection, and take forward the issue of improving accessibility through a Redress Reform Working Group.

We support the Government with the objective of providing consumers with a single, swift and effective route to complain when things go wrong and we will look to working with the Government and other redress providers to streamline and close the gaps in the existing redress provision. This is vital to the future of consumer protection and driving out poor practice in the industry“.

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