What does the Government plan to do?
The Government consulted on its plans to improve the complaints system in the housing market between February and April 2018, and received over 1,200 responses – including from MoneySavingExpert.
When the Government launched its consultation on improving the complaints service for consumers in the housing market last year, MoneySavingExpert surveyed hundreds of users to provide a detailed response.
We called for a single housing ombudsman with legal powers – and while the Government hasn’t agreed to all of our suggestions, today’s announcement is a step forward for consumers.
The Government plans to:
- Create a housing complaints resolution service. This will be a single point of access for all the current housing redress schemes. This means that homeowners and tenants will be able to escalate their complaint to the same place initially, and their complaint will then be directed to the right redress scheme.
- Private landlords will be legally required to join a complaints scheme. At the moment, private landlords can choose whether or not to be members of a redress scheme. Now the Government wants them – as well as freeholders of leasehold properties, developers of new build homes and private providers of student accommodation – to be legally required to join or face a fine of up to £5,000.
- A redress reform working group will be set up to improve practice. The group will work with the housing industry and consumers to review standards and improve complaints handling.
We’ve asked the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government when these schemes and rules are likely to be put into place, and will update this story when we hear back.
Complaints systems for social housing residents are being considered separately, with updates due to be published in the spring.
The Government has also said it is committed to setting up a new homes ombudsman to protect home buyers. Legislation will be introduced “at the earliest possible opportunity” to make sure all new home developers must be members of the new ombudsman – and developers will need to join by 2021 if they want to be part of the Government’s Help to Buy scheme.