The National Association of Estate Agents and the Association of Residential Lettings Agents have thrown their weight behind the government’s latest announcement on overhauling redress in the housing industry.
Mark Hayward, NAEA chief executive, and his ARLA counterpart David Cox says in a joint statement: “In Propertymark's response to the consultation last year, we called for greater clarity in the system and streamlining through the creation of a single portal along with a unifying code of practice for all housing providers.
“We are very pleased that the government has listened and accepted our recommendation to establish a single 'front door'. We agree with the Government in its response that it will ‘provide simple access for consumers to redress, via a single user interface regardless of tenure, while retaining the specialist expertise of the different schemes’.
“Propertymark welcomes this approach and is pleased to see the government taking a holistic approach to redress right across the property industry; creating the beginnings of a more integrated housing strategy rather than the piecemeal, sectoral and issue-specific approach that we have all had to deal with for too long.”
The Guild of Property Professionals is also enthusiastic.
“The Guild have been actively promoting best practice in estate agency for 25 years, including our code of conduct for members and trading standards accredited training scheme. We therefore wholeheartedly support the government proposals” explains chief executive Iain McKenzie.
“The general public need greater confidence that whether buying (both re-sale and new homes), selling, letting or renting a property, they are dealing with a professional agent and there is a clear route to redress in the event of a dispute.
“The government has recognised that the UK is going to be generational in the respect that there will be people who are tenants for their whole life. Therefore, bringing private landlords into the redress provision is a positive move allowing tenants access to redress in any given situation.
“In addition, having just launched a Guild New Homes department, we also welcome the implementation of a redress scheme to protect the rights of purchasers of new build housing.”
As reported here on EAT yesterday, the government’s reform proposals have a number of strands.
Firstly there will be a New Homes Ombudsman, eventually with legislation obliging developers to join.
Secondly, all private landlords “including private providers of purpose-built student housing and park home site operators” will have to join a redress service, with a fine of £5,000 for those who fail to do so.
Thirdly, and most fundamentally, there will be a new Housing Complaints Resolution Service which will be - in the government’s words - “a single one-stop-shop for housing complaints and help prevent anyone with a problem from being turned away.” This will ultimately include all estate and lettings agents, the government says.
Finally, there will be a single Code of Practice on complaint handling across all tenures.
The Property Ombudsman has given a cautious welcome to the proposals, which will now be the subject of detailed discussions between existing redress services and government officials.