Complete overhaul of broken housing complaints system
Dissatisfied homeowners and tenants will have simple and quick access to help when things go wrong, thanks to new plans announced by Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP.
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.
Communities Secretary Rt Hon James 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 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.
To combat this, the Communities Secretary has announced that private landlords will be legally required to become members of a redress scheme – with a fine of up to £5,000 if they fail to do so.
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 home 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.
Speaking on behalf of the industry, Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, said “This is a very welcome announcement from the Secretary of State. It’s important that, when a complaint can’t be resolved directly between a landlord and tenant, it can be addressed effectively, independent and fairly.
“Tenants often tell us that one of the most important issues for them is that their voices are heard, loud and clear. A key part of this is resolving any complaints quickly and fairly, and these proposed changes should help to do just that.
“Now, we look forward to working with the Government to help shape the detail of the new proposals.”