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Housing Complaints Resolution Service will cover entire housing market

A new housing complaints service for both homeowners and tenants is to be set up, and private landlords will be legally required to join a housing redress scheme.

The Communities Secretary James Brokenshire MP has announced that a new Housing Complaints Resolution Service will help people with unresolved disputes about problems with their home – such as repairs and maintenance.

Unlike other sectors, such as financial services, the housing market has several different complaints bodies, with homeowners and tenants having to navigate their way through a complicated and bureaucratic system just to work out where to register a grievance.

Establishing a single housing complaints service for all residents – no matter whether they rent or own their home – should 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.

Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, said: “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.

“The proposals I have announced today 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.”

Compulsory scheme for landlords

At the moment in the private rented sector, landlords do not have to register with a complaints system – leaving thousands of renters without any course for redress.

To combat this, the Communities Secretary has announced that private landlords 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.

Government still working on New Homes Ombudsman

And to protect the interests of homeowners who buy new build homes, government has also reiterated its commitment to establishing a New Homes Ombudsman to protect home buyers Legislation will be needed but it will mean that all house builders must sign up to the Ombudsman scheme. Developers will also have to belong to the new body by 2021 if they wish to participate in the government’s 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.

Announcement welcomed 

Mark Hayward, chief executive, NAEA Propertymark and David Cox, chief executive, ARLA Propertymark, welcomed the announcement.

They said: “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.”

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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New Homes Ombudsman ‘will champion consumers’ and address problems of build quality

Secretary of State for Housing James Brokenshire has announced that a New Homes Ombudsman is to be appointed.

The role will specifically address problems of build quality in new homes.

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference, Brokenshire also pledged that the Government’s domestic priority is building enough homes to satisfy the country’s needs.

He said “decades of under-investment and lack of political will” had created an environment in which home-ownership has become unattainable for many people.

Brokenshire said the New Homes Ombudsman would “champion” consumers – a statement that could raise eyebrows in wider ombudsman circles where fairness and impartiality are always emphasised.

Brokenshire told delegaates: “This new watchdog will champion home buyers, protect their interests and hold developers to account, and give confidence that when you get the keys to a new home you get the quality build you expect and the finish you pay for.”

The announcement lacked any further detail, but seems to signpost the Government’s direction of travel.

It had earlier proposed one single ombudsman for the entire housing sector, encompassing new-builds, social housing and both private sales and lettings.

It seems unlikely that a New Homes Ombudsman would be announced if the Government were still planning this.

An alternative proposal was that consumers would seek redress via a single portal which would direct them to the appropriate ombudsman. This now seems more likely, with the possibility that there would be only one ombudsman to cover each part of the housing market.

Yesterday evening Ombudsman Katrine Sporle of TPO – whose remit does not include the new homes sector or social housing but who has campaigned for a single ombudsman in each sector – said: “We welcome the news that the Government will launch a New Homes Ombudsman.

“We have always agreed that new homes should be covered by an Ombudsman, as consumers have no idea that when they buy a new home directly from a developer they will have no access to a redress scheme.

“This announcement will mean the housing market becomes a fairer place for all involved.”

Source: Property Industry Eye