Landlord, Tenant Disputes:
In what is likely to be yet another cost for the private landlord, Communities Secretary, James Brokenshire, has announced a major overhaul of what he calls the “broken housing complaints system”.
This will entail all private landlord having to register with a redress scheme, similar to the ones already in operation for letting agents.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government and The Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP housing announced the plan last week in a government press release.
For first time ever, says Mr Brokenshaw, private landlords will be legally required to join a housing redress scheme. This he says will boost the protection for millions of renters across the country.
The move builds on government reforms to create a housing market that works for everyone – no matter what type of home they live in, says Brokenshaw.
“From broken boilers to cracks in the wall, the new Housing Complaints Resolution Service will potentially help millions by providing a straight-forward way of getting help when faced 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 – will 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,” says a government press release published last week,” says the press release.
The Communities Secretary Mr 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.
“But all too often the process can be confusing and overly bureaucratic, leaving many homeowners and tenants feeling like there is nowhere to go in the event of problems with their home.
“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.
“Currently, the housing complaints system is confusing – there are multiple complaint bodies covering the housing market, and membership of redress schemes is compulsory for some tenures but not others.
“For example, in the private rented sector, there is currently no obligation for landlords to register with a complaints system – leaving thousands of renters without any course for redress.
“…Private landlords will be legally required to become members of a redress scheme – with a fine of up to £5,000 for non-compliance.
“And to protect the interests of home-owners who buy new build homes, government has also reiterated its commitment to establishing a New Homes Ombudsman which will champion buyers, protect their interests and hold developers to account.
“Legislation will be brought forward at the earliest possible opportunity to require all new developers to belong to the Ombudsman – giving homebuyers the confidence that when they get the keys to a new home they are getting the quality of build they expect.
“Developers will also have to belong to the new body by 2021 if they wish to participate in the government’s landmark 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.
“This is part of on-going work by the government to make the property market fairer and more transparent for everyone,” says Mr Brokenshaw.
These measures form part of the government response to the consultation “Strengthening consumer redress in the housing market”, which ran from 18 February to 16 April 2018, and received over 1,200 responses.
The consultation at looked at a range of issues including:
- how the current complaints and redress landscape works
- whether streamlining redress in housing could help improve delivery of services
- how the ‘in-house’ complaints process and other practices and processes in redress could be improved
- how any gaps in housing redress could be filled, with a particular focus on purchasers of new build homes and private rented sector tenants
The policy proposals issued by government relate primarily to England. Where proposed legislation has scope outside England with regard to devolved matters, it says it will continue to engage and consult the devolved administrations to seek agreement.