The battle to become the single ombudsman service after the government rationalises the redress system across housing has taken an unexpected turn.
Now The Property Ombudsman, the largest of the three existing redress systems for agents, says it is to allow members of another redress scheme - Ombudsman Services: Property - to join up for free.
OS:P announced some weeks ago that it was going to withdraw from the current redress landscape and instead investigate how a single Ombudsman scheme might work across all aspects of housing, including new build housing as well as estate and letting agency.
But TPO says that as the largest of the remaining government approved redress schemes, it can fill the breach and wiave the joining fee for agents currently with OS:P - so long as they transfer before August 6.
TPO’s board chairman Gerry Fitzjohn adds: “We are a totally independent, not-for-profit organisation and the only redress scheme to operate codes of practice which have been approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.
“As a result, we are always seeking to raise standards and share best practice in the industry as well as make the process of redress as simple as possible for consumers.
“As the only remaining Ombudsman in property we want to reassure our existing members that we remain open for business, and help new members needing to transition from another scheme, to do so as efficiently as possible.”
Earlier this year the government launched what was, to many observers, a surprise consultation exercise with the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government seeking views on its options including:
- introducing a single housing ombudsman to cover the whole of the housing market;
- builders being required to join an ombudsman scheme, following on our commitment to expand redress to tenants of private landlords;
- naming and shaming poor practice to help tackle the worst abuses.
Since that time there has been some informal jostling for position between TPO and rival organisation Ombudsman Services: Property with both believed to regard themselves as capable of undertaking the single redress service for all aspects of the housing industry.