Housing ombudsman consultation launches

by Gary Whittaker

A consultation has been formally launched into government proposals to create a single housing ombudsman service.

Communities secretary Sajid Javid has proposed that the change, which would mean rolling the four existing complaints bodies acting across the social and private rental sectors into one. 

The eight-week exercise will hear from landlords and agents as well as tenants and existing ombudsman services to establish their views on three key issues. 

These are the effectiveness (or otherwise) of the current complaints system, the standard of service that should be required and whether a single ombudsman offers the answer, and how gaps in the current system can best be filled. The latter will include matters such as the present situation where private landlords do not have to register with a redress scheme. 

At present, tenants do have access to redress when a property is run by a letting agency, so any change in this area could have implications for agents and independent landlords. 

Other proposals include making home builders join an ombudsman scheme - which may impact on tenants of newly-built rental properties when faults arise - and a 'name and shame' policy that highlights bad practice and tackles the worst abuses. 

Commenting on the consultation, Mr Javid said: "For too long, tenants and homeowners have navigated multiple complaints procedures to resolve disputes about everyday household repairs and maintenance.

"Fixing this housing crisis is about more than just building homes, it’s ensuring people have the answers available when something goes wrong."

He added that the new measures will add to a number of steps already being taken to help the 8.6 million households living in rented homes.

It may be that not everyone in the rental sector will be happy with seeing more regulatory proposals. 

Responding this month to recent claims by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that the government had not done enough to regulate the private rented sector, the Residential Landlords' Association said that, contrary to this, there had in fact been an "almost constant drip of new legislation from the government".

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21-February-18General Lettings News