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New Housing Complaints Resolution Service is announced

In a move that the government claims highlights their commitment to build on its reforms to make the property market fairer and more transparent for everyone, no matter what type of home they live in, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire MP has announced an overhaul of the “broken” housing complaints system for the entire housing market to ensure both homeowners and tenants know where to go when things go wrong.

The move, which the government believes will boost protection for millions across the country, will ensure that for first time ever dissatisfied homeowners and tenants will have simple and quick access to help when things go wrong. Currently the housing market has a number of different complaints bodies which causes confusion for homeowners and tenants who have to try and make sense of a complicated and bureaucratic system just to work out where to even start to register a grievance. For years there have been calls for a single official body for all (such as the financial services sector has) so that no matter if you are a home owner or renter there would be support and help available to resolve issues with landlords and builders, such as defects, repairs and maintenance issues faster and make it easier to claim compensation where it’s owed. The government’s announcement forms part of the government response to the consultation ‘Strengthening consumer redress in the housing market’, which ran from 18 February to 16 April 2018 and received over 1,200 responses.

The consultation looked at a range of issues including:

  • how the current complaints and redress landscape works
  • whether streamlining redress in housing could help improve delivery of services
  • how the ‘in-house’ complaints process and other practices and processes in redress could be improved
  • how any gaps in housing redress could be filled, with a particular focus on purchasers of new build homes and private rented sector tenants

Additionally, private landlords will be legally required to join a housing redress scheme where currently schemes are compulsory for some tenures but not others. There is also a proposed fine of up to £5,000 if those required to fail to join.