The announcement from the Government outlines plans to introduced a single one-stop method for housing complaints.
The Housing Complaints Resolution Service will provide a single point of access to resolve complaints for housing consumers when ‘in-house’ complaint processes have been exhausted.
The service, which is being established by the Government, will see landlords slapped with a £5,000 fine should they fail to sign up.
There are a number of complaint services already in existence, however they are only compulsory for some and not all to join.
Now, private landlords will be legally required to join a redress scheme or face the £5,000 fine if they fail to do so, with stronger sanctions to be imposed in the event of multiple breaches.
The full measures of the Government’s announcement include:
- The introduction of a new Housing Complaints Resolution Service with the aim of helping anyone with a property transaction dispute.
- The requirement for all private landlords to belong to a redress scheme.
- The requirement for developers of new homes to sign up to a New Homes Ombudsman.
- The introduction of a single Code of Practice on complaint handling across all tenures.
In a statement, David Cox, Chief Executive of ARLA Propertymark commented: “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 proposal follows a consultation early last year which received 1,209 responses from consumers and industry.
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.
No firm date has yet been set for the introduction of the new rule.
But what is a redress scheme?
By law, Property Agents are required to join a government authorised consumer redress scheme. The purpose of this is to give consumers of the Property Agent an escalated complaints procedure if they are unhappy with how their complaint has been dealt with by the Agent.
What schemes are available?
At present, there are two main redress schemes:
Up until 1st August 2018, a third scheme existed in the form of Ombudsman Services Property.