Estate agents have criticised the Government'�s plans to usher in a single ombudsman for the property industry, claiming it will have unintended consequences.
Under the plans, the existing redress schemes for estate agents and their customers will be replaced by an overarching ombudsman organisations that will also cover landlords and their tenants.
This proposal is part of the looming Renters Reform Bill due to be introduced during the current parliament, although plans to introduce redress for landlords has been in the pipeline since Theresa May'�s time in office.
Timothy Douglas (main image), Head of Policy at Campaigns at Propertymark, which is the main trade association for agents in the UK, says he is concerned that the Committee has recommended that the UK Government introduce a single ombudsman for the whole of the private rented sector without considering its impact.
'Such a significant change needs thorough consideration of the implications on the system as a whole,'� he says.
'Alongside letting agents, sales and managing agents are also currently legally required to belong to one of the existing redress schemes, therefore removing these schemes and replacing with one for letting agents and landlords will have knock on effects for the housing sector which the Committee has failed to realise.'�
Sean Hooker, Head of Redress at the Property Redress Scheme, one of the UK'�s two main ombudsman organisations, also reveals his concerns about the proposals.
'Whilst we agree with the principle of a single route for tenants to access effective and affordable complaint resolution the calls for a single body to achieve this are, as Propertymark point out are problematic,'� he says.
'Nearly half of landlords use agents in some capacity, many because of their expertise or because the landlord does not live locally, so requiring them to engage with a redress scheme will be challenging.
'It also does not make sense to reinvent the wheel for agent redress, which works well with two highly experienced and expert redress schemes having successfully operated for years now.
'I cannot see how either trying to solve the issue of consumer confusion, by introducing yet another ombudsman or trying to start from scratch with a one size fits all body is practical or will benefit anyone.
'Instead, integrating landlord redress and plugging the gaps such as rent to rent, into the existing process, incorporate mediation but having a single, accessible entry point, with assistance guidance and signposting is the way forward.'�