From 1 October 2014, anyone who is engaged in property management work has been required to belong to one of three government approved redress schemes:
- Ombudsman Services (OS)
- Property Ombudsman
- Property Redress Scheme.
On 6th February 2018, OS announced that it will undertake a managed withdrawal from complaints handling in the property sector. The withdrawal will be completed by 6th August, and is with a view to OS consulting with the public about the shape of the service, understanding key ‘pain points’ for renters, tenants and home-buyers and modelling potential demand. It aims to submit a report to MHCLG in the spring concerning the creation of a single housing ombudsman.
The consultation will be a “major dialogue with consumers to help tackle an ‘imbalance in power’ in the housing sector”. OS’s vision is of a single housing ombudsman similar to that outlined by Secretary of State Sajid Javid in his speech to the National House Building Council in November.
In its 2016 annual report OS stated:
“Complaints volumes have steadily risen over more recent years and the main area of complaint remains about surveyors not reporting defects in the survey report. But since lettings and managing agents were statutorily required to belong to a redress scheme since 2015, the number of complaints about lettings and managing agents has risen at a faster rate than any of the other sectors under our jurisdiction.
Poor customer service and poor communication are constants throughout the complaints we see.”
LEASE’s response to the government’s ‘Protecting consumers in the letting and managing agent market – Call for Evidence’ submits that the way ahead for redress in leasehold is through a single regulator with two key functions:
- Deciding whether an individual or organisation is eligible to operate, or to continue to operate, in residential leasehold management; and
- Consideration of the investigation of complaints about licenced individuals and organisations and enforcement action, if deemed necessary.