The government has this morning set out wide-ranging changes to redress systems for agents, the sales and lettings sectors, and other parts of the property industry.
James Brokenshire, secretary of state at the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government, says: “I am proposing a New Homes Ombudsman, underpinned by legislation following the establishment of an interim voluntary service, and requiring developers of new build homes to participate.
“I will also bring forward legislation to require all private landlords, including private providers of purpose-built student housing, and park home site operators to belong to a redress scheme.” There will be fined of up to £5,000 for landlords who do not join.
Brokenshire continues: “Second, I want to give people a clearer and simpler route to redress through a new Housing Complaints Resolution Service. My aim is for this to become a single one-stop-shop for housing complaints and help prevent anyone with a problem from being turned away.
“Third, I want to work to raise the bar for the service consumers should expect when they seek help by working across the housing sector to ensure the necessary guidance and codes of practice are in place to uphold good standards. I want to see a single ‘Code of Practice’ on complaint handling across all tenures."
On the Housing Complaints Resolution Service, the government says: “Our ambition ultimately is for the new service to cover all housing consumers including tenants and leaseholders of social and private rented housing as well as purchasers of new build homes and users of all residential property agents.”
The government adds that a 'Redress Reform Working Group' will talk with existing redress services "to develop the proposals outlined ... over the coming months."
The announcement follows the government receiving some 1,209 responses from consumers and industry, in a formal consultation process about improving redress.
You can see the full announcement and details of consultation responses here.
The Property Ombudsman Katrine Sporle has responded to this morning’s news by saying: “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.”