As a letting agent we need to belong to a government-approved independent redress scheme. The scheme’s role is to ensure fair and reasonable resolutions to disputes with members of the public. The government is now looking to launch a similar scheme, the Housing Complaints Resolution Service, to help homeowners and tenants; should they fail to resolve issues with a housebuilder or landlords.
The proposed scheme would be underpinned by legislation and will require all private landlords to belong to a redress scheme.
James Brokenshire, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government, says: “I want to give people a clearer and simpler route to redress through a new Housing Complaints Resolution Service. My aim is for this to become a single one-stop-shop for housing complaints and help prevent anyone with a problem from being turned away.
…I want to work to raise the bar for the service consumers should expect when they seek help by working across the housing sector to ensure the necessary guidance and codes of practice are in place to uphold good standards. I want to see a single ‘Code of Practice’ on complaint handling across all tenures."
The news hasn’t been welcomed by many in the industry as they feel it will create more costs for the landlord. David Smith of the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) stated, “We also need clarification on what the situation will be for landlords who use letting agents. Agents already have to be a member of a redress scheme, so landlords using them would be paying twice.”
The new Housing Complaints Resolution Service will mean that as a private landlord you will be legally required to join a redress scheme and failure to do so could result in a £5,000 fine. It is uncertain at this time when the proposed new scheme will come into force, as it will first need parliamentary approval.
It is also unclear what the cost of joining such a scheme will be, although it has been suggested by the government that there could be a tiered system rather than a flat fee. But it’s said that the new service will provide tenants with quick and simple access to help should things go wrong.
This is a sentiment echoed by the Property Ombudsman: “We support the government with the objective of providing consumers with a single, swift and effective route to complain when things go wrong,” said Katrine Sporle.
As we have stated, it is still unclear what the situation will be if your property is managed by Rees Associates as we already belong to a redress scheme to support you when situations arise. We will be keeping a close eye on the outcome of this proposal so we can advise all our landlords, whether managed or not, how this new redress policy will affect them.
It is rare that we encounter situations where such a scheme is required, due to the strong relationships we build and maintain with both our landlords and tenants. Nonetheless, a simple change of circumstance can have an unexpected and life-changing impact on someone. It’s how we handle such circumstances that demonstrates our worth as a letting agent.
If you would like advice on how to manage a difficult situation with your tenancy, please contact one of our team today.