Propertymark has rejected the Government’s proposal of one ombudsman for the entire housing sector.
It says there should be one ombudsman for private housing and another for social housing.
However, it advocates one portal for all housing-related complaints.
Currently there are three redress schemes for the private sector.
Propertymark suggests that the single ombudsman in the private sector should be The Property Ombudsman.
It would cover sales and lettings as at present, plus the new homes industry, park homes, and leaseholders with a private sector freeholder.
The recommendations are made by ARLA and NAEA in their joint response to the government consultation on ‘strengthening redress in the housing market’.
The response says that the current system of redress is problematic.
It is confusing to consumers, who do not know who to complain to; there are gaps in the existing redress schemes; and the existing redress schemes are inconsistent in the way they handle complaints.
For example, consumers are unaware that they should first complain to the agent before taking their case further.
Currently, many tenants who rent directly from a landlord have no access to redress as there is no legal requirement for landlords to belong to a redress scheme.
There are also gaps in redress for buyers of new homes, because not all developers are registered with the Consumer Code for Home Builders; and people living in blocks of flats managed directly by the freeholder also have no access to a complaints system.
The three redress systems are also inconsistent in the way they handle complaints, adjudicating to different standards.
The three redress schemes currently in the private sector are: TPO, whose origins are in ARLA; the RICS-backed Ombudsman Services: Property, which is bowing out of the existing system this August but is already taking soundings on what consumers want by way of redress; and the Property Redress Scheme (PRS) whose annual report is now out (see next story).