The National Association of Estate Agents has told the government that it wants one single Ombudsman to provide redress across all aspects of the privately-owned property industry - and it does not want separate ones for different activities.
In its formal response to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s consultation into redress for buyers of new build homes, the association rejects the government’s proposed New Homes Ombudsman, acting completely separately and who would have responsibility only for those newly-built properties.
“Central to NAEA Propertymark’s view is that a New Homes Ombudsman should be part of a single overarching housing ombudsman via the one housing portal” the response says.
“Through this process the portal for housing would be a ‘catch-all’ for housing related complaints with issues then filtered to one ombudsman for private housing and another for social housing” it continues.
“The ombudsman for private housing should cover purchasers who have brought a new build home and purchasers and sellers of existing homes.”
In a detailed 14 page response covering 44 different points, it says: “This approach will bring clarity to consumers because the one ombudsman portal will ensure they know where to go to raise housing related complaints. Once a complaint has been raised the portal should have the capacity to filter or advance complaints for consumers.
“It’s imperative that the new streamlined redress provision for housing can intervene early to support parties to resolve cases as quickly as possible. For instance, the portal could provide the consumer with a set of short questions to review their situation and work out what the best course of action is.
“The portal will then need to analyse this information and either refer the consumer back to the housing provider (for example if the internal complaints process has not been first exhausted) or advance the complaint to the relevant housing ombudsman.”
On the specific point of a New Homes Ombudsman - if the government eventually puts this into effect, as expected - the NAEA says the government must extend the requirements under the Estate Agents Act 1979 to housebuilders’ sales staff.
“The Government must also include the sales staff of housebuilders in the requirements for sales agents to be qualified as set out in the Regulation of Property Agents Working Group report published in July 2019” the association concludes.