Communities Secretary the Right Honourable James Brokenshire has announced an overhaul of the complaints and redress system for the property industry. The idea is to have one “housing industry” wide scheme with a single point of contact for the consumer.
Some areas of the housing sector, estate and letting agents for example, are required to be members of independent redress schemes already, whilst other areas of the market are exempt, such as house builders. This leaves consumers confused and in some cases left without a scheme to which they can complain.
As a result of a consultation last year there were over 1,200 responses. These proposals come out of those responses and the consultation. As the lettings part of the market is already regulated, the changes should have less impact on letting agents.
Private landlords, currently outside the legal redress scheme requirements, will be brought within the new regime, ensuring that tenants have a right to redress regardless of through whom they rent their property. There will be a £5,000 penalty for landlords who fail to join a redress scheme.
The new ‘idea’ is being called a “Housing Complaints Resolution Service” and it reads like it is an overarching body with different ombudsmen for different sectors. It sounds like a ‘front door’ for easy access for tenants to complain and includes comments about providing help when there are problems, such as repairs and maintenance. The announcement is thin on the ground in terms of details, but it is clear the intention is to increase regulation. The announcement says the legislation will be brought forward “at the earliest opportunity”.