Last year the government announced it would be looking to consolidate the overcomplicated housing ombudsman scheme into one redress system, and a new consultation has now brought this a step closer.
Housing secretary Sajid Javid has announced that the government has set up a housing consultation to further explore the possibility of creating one single housing ombudsman to deal with property issues and complaints, to replace the existing confusing system which involves several different ombudsmen.
The move is intended to benefit homeowners and tenants, who will be able to raise complaints over issues such as poor building work, or landlords who do not upkeep their properties to a reasonable standard for tenants. At present, the schemes available for these types of complaints include The Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services: Property, the Property Redress Scheme, and the Housing Ombudsman, all of which perform a variety of different functions.
“From broken boilers to cracks in walls, the current choice of schemes risks leaving thousands without answers, with others having to manoeuvre between at least four different services just to work out where to register a complaint.”
He added: “Fixing this housing crisis is about more than just building homes, it’s ensuring people have the answers available when something goes wrong. Today’s top-to-bottom review shows the government is working hard to deliver a better and simpler system.”
More awareness needs to be raised
However, Upad founder James Davis believes that the lack of awareness across the industry in general is a bigger problem that needs to be addressed, even before the creation of the new ombudsman.
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“On face value, a clearer, more streamlined system of redress is not a bad thing,” he commented. “However, I’m not just a letting agency CEO, but a landlord too and having personally arranged over 100 tenancy agreements, I’ve not once had a tenant ask whether I’m accredited or not. Other landlords I know have experienced the same and the reason is simply that there’s zero awareness.”
He added that “apathy” around the issue needs to be addressed. “Those with genuine industry insight need to be given the opportunity to manage investment into property redress and develop it the same way that ATOL and the Financial Services Ombudsman have been allowed to. Let’s first raise awareness of property redress and then decide how it’s best managed.”