The UK is to get a new housing complaints resolution service so that both home owners and tenants know where to go when things go wrong, it has been announced.
For the first time ever, private landlords will be legally required to join a housing redress scheme and Secretary of State for Housing James Brokenshire said that it will boost protection for millions of tenants across the country.
According to Brokenshire it will potentially 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.
Under the new service dissatisfied home owners and tenants will have simple and quick access to help when things go wrong with the service covering everything from broken boilers to cracks in walls.
He pointed out that currently, unlike other sectors, such as financial services, the housing market has several different complaints bodies, with home owners and tenants having to navigate their way through a complicated and bureaucratic system just to work out where to register a grievance.
He believes that establishing a single housing complaints service for all residents will prevent people from battling with their landlord or builder to resolve issues on their own and make it easier to claim compensation where it’s owed.
‘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 home owners and tenants feeling like there is nowhere to go in the event of problems with their home,’ said Brokenshire.
‘The proposals I have announced 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,’ he pointed out.
‘Currently, the housing complaints system is confusing as there are multiple complaint bodies covering the housing market, and membership of redress schemes is compulsory for some tenures but not others. For example, in the private rented sector, there is currently no obligation for landlords to register with a complaints system, leaving thousands of renters without any course for redress,’ he added.
One of the biggest changes is that landlords in the private rented sector 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.
And to protect the interests of home-owners who buy new build homes, the Government has also reiterated its commitment to establishing a New Homes Ombudsman which will champion home buyers, protect their interests and hold developers to account.
Legislation will be brought forward at the earliest possible opportunity to require all new developers to belong to the Ombudsman, Brokenshire confirmed, giving home buyers the confidence that when they get the keys to a new home they are getting the quality of build they expect.
Developers will also have to belong to the new body by 2021 if they wish to participate in the Government’s landmark Help to Buy scheme.
The Housing Complaints Resolution Service will be developed with a new Redress Reform Working Group made up of representatives from across the sector, working with industry and consumers.
The Property Ombudsman said that the new service is ‘vital’ to the future of consumer protection and driving out poor practice in the housing industry. ‘We support the Government with the objective of providing consumers with a single, swift and effective route to complain when things go wrong,’ said Katrine Sporle.
‘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,’ she added.