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New Housing Complaints Service to Launch for Homeowners

A new housing complaints service is going to be launched in England to address the needs of homeowners and renters.

At present, there are different complaints bodies for housing issues, making it challenging for homeowners and tenants to make a complaint. In response, the government has confirmed its intention of launching a service that directs complaints to the right party, so issues with builders or landlords can be resolved.

The new scheme will require private landlords to register with a complaints system. They presently have the choice to do so but the government wants them, as well as new build home developers, leasehold property freeholders, and private student accommodation providers to join or face a £5,000 fine.

Although these changes will apply mostly to England, the government has stated that it will work on the proposals with Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

When the government consulted on its plans to improve the housing market complaints system, it received over 1,200 responses. It now plans to create a single point of access for all current schemes for housing redress.

A working group dedicated to redress reform will be established to improve practice. It will work with consumers and the housing industry to improve the handling of complaints and review standards.

Complaints systems aimed at social housing residents are being considered separately.

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The government has also confirmed its commitment to protect home buyers by setting up a homes ombudsman. It will introduce legislation as soon as possible to ensure that all new home developers must be members. Developers must join by 2021 if they want to be involved with the Help to Buy scheme.

While the government has made many positive changes in this regard, it is still being called upon to do more, such as:

  • Create a housing ombudsman solely dedicated to housing complaints in addition to a portal to pass on complaints to the Financial Ombudsman and other services.
  • Provide that ombudsman with legal powers that can be enforced in court. The majority of those who responded to the government’s consultation agreed that these powers should be provided.

MoneySavingExpert head of campaigns Kirsty Good said that the announcement was a positive step forward for leaseholders and private tenants, who will finally have a place to go to when they can’t resolve a problem with their freeholder or landlord.

She expressed hope that ombudsman schemes would experience a wholesale reform, as many of them are not set up by law and don’t have the legal power to enforce their decisions.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said that there was more to creating a workable housing market than building homes. It was also about providing people with access to necessary help if things go wrong. At present the system seems too bureaucratic and confusing, but the recently announced proposals will help ensure that everyone can access support when they need it, so disputes can be resolved more quickly and compensation paid when appropriate.

Specialists in Construction Insurance

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