The government has announced a new consultation to consider a simpler and better complaints system for tenants to ensure disputes are resolved quickly and compensation paid when due.
The 8-week consultation commenced this week and the options to be considered are:
- introducing a single housing ombudsman to cover the whole of the housing market
- single front door system where complaints are sent to a single portal but its channelled to the relevant existing schemes
- Consolidating the existing schemes
- what type and level of sanctions and awards a redress scheme should be able to deliver and their powers of enforcement
The reasons for this new redress scheme include:
- the lack of a single complaint body which tenants could turn to for a resolution. The numerous option available including the Property Ombudsman and Ombudsman Services: Property or the Property Redress Scheme can be daunting and confusing for tenants; and
- Landlords are currently not required to register with a complaints system which can lead tenants with no option for redress especially where landlords do not use agents.
In the consultation the key areas that will be addressed are:
- the effectiveness of the current complaint process, or if more can be done to improve the experience
- what standard of service should be expected and if a single housing ombudsman is needed
- how to fill the existing gaps in the current system, such as private landlords not having to register with a redress scheme
Interestingly the consultation paper states that the government is committed to changing the law to require all landlords join a redress scheme making sure that tenants have access to a redress system. Some cases such as possession matters will not come within the ambit of the scheme, but many others will. The cost of joining a scheme, penalties for not joining, monitoring and enforcement are all issue that will also need to be considered.
Housing is a hot topic at the moment and more and more consultations are expected on many other issues some which may eventually have an impact on the private rental sector. This post will be updated when more information is available.