An ITV news investigation aired last night has heavily criticised the government for its lack of progress to enable tenants in both the social and private rented sectors to complain about sub-standard homes.
Reported Daniel Hewitt spent six weeks touring mouldy and poorly-maintained homes interviewing tenants unable to prompt councils and housing associations into action.
The hour-long programme claimed the social sector’s Housing Ombudsman complaint system ‘clearly isn’t working’ and that tenants in private accommodation who rent directly off their landlords were largely powerless.
Private landlords are not required by law to join a redress scheme, and tenants usually have only their local Trading Standards or Environmental Health teams to turn to, many of which are either under-staffed or over-stretched.
Private tenants can also access redress if they dispute deductions from their deposit, assuming their landlord has lodged it with an approved scheme, or complain about their letting agent’s service if their landlord uses one.
But otherwise they are in limbo says Sean Hooker (pictured), Head of Redress at the Property Redress Scheme (PRS). He says it is time the government introduced a mandatory landlord redress scheme.
“When you are forced to live for long periods of time with a problem such as a disrepair or the condition of a property, the impact and distress on tenants is compounded,” he says.
“A requirement for all landlords to register with a redress scheme would mean that the whole private sector would be accountable to a complaint process.”
Hooker says the PRS is already working with the Housing Ombudsman, First Tier tribunals and The Property Ombudsman to move to a single gateway for all tenants to access the complaint service they need.
“The concept would be that complainants would be able have their complaint signposted to the right service, that data could be shared allowing the complaint to be effectively dealt with as quickly and effectively as possible.”