The government is to consult with housing professionals on establishing a single ombudsman to protect people in the property market. At the moment there are four different government approved providers who deal with complaints about home buying and renting, meaning this is a confusing area where different standards apply and there can be a lack of clarity on where responsibility lies for consumer rights.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said a consultation with the industry starting in January will have the long-term aim of introducing higher standards for developers and builders, while also providing a single point of contact for home owners, home buyers, tenants and landlords who have an unresolved issue.
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Holding industry to higher standards
He told a London audience: “Homes are not only the biggest financial investment in our lives, they also provide security, and so it’s only right that developers and builders are held to a higher standard.
“That’s why we are looking at bold options to improve redress in the New Year, including whether housing, like other sectors, should have a single ombudsman. This could help drive up standards across the whole industry and increase protections for consumers.”
The proposed consultation will invite both the public and professionals across all aspects of the housing market to participate and develop options for improving the consumer experience.
Providing a professional service
The current housing ombudsman deals with complaints from tenants, both in the private and social housing sectors, although membership for private landlords is on a voluntary basis. In the private sector, those buying a new build home can complain to the House Builders’ Federation and the National House Building Council.
Other professionals involved in the housing market include estate agents, solicitors, covered by the Law Society’s Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and building surveyors, who are members of Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). All solicitors on the Homeward Legal nationwide panel are covered by the SRA, while all surveyors on the nationwide panel used by our sister site, Surveyor Local, are members of the RICS.