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Government announces a new housing complaints service 24/01/2019 Labelled as Development, Scrutiny, Regulation, Tenants

On 24 January Communities Secretary James Brokenshire announced plans for a new housing complaints service for the housing market which the government claims will ensure both homeowners and tenants know where to go when things go wrong and for the first time ever, private landlords will be legally required to join a housing redress scheme.


These measures have been announced as part of the government's response to its earlier consultation on Strengthening consumer redress in the housing market, which closed on 16 April 2018. The government's response to this consultation proposes:


  • a Housing Complaints Resolution Service, a new single point of access to redress that housing consumers can use
  • a New Homes Ombudsman for buyers of new build homes (previously announced in October 2018)
  • to bring forward legislation to close the gaps in redress services for consumers including to require all private landlords to sign up to a redress scheme
  • a Redress Reform Working Group with the housing redress sector to develop the proposals outlined in the response over the coming months


Read the Government's response to the consultation on consumer redress

The new Housing Complaints Resolution Service will be established with the aim of providing a straightforward way of homeowners and tenants getting help when faced with unresolved disputes about problems with their home.


The Housing Complaints Resolution Service will provide a single point of access to resolve complaints for housing consumers, when 'in-house' complaint processes have been exhausted, through the current schemes providing alternative dispute resolution, while preserving the expertise of existing providers. The Government says that the new Housing Complaints Resolution Service will be developed with a new Redress Reform Working Group made up of representatives from across the sector, working with industry and consumers.


Private landlords will be legally required to become members of a redress scheme - with a fine of up to £5,000 if they fail to do so and the government intends to establish a New Homes Ombudsman which will champion home buyers, protect their interests and hold developers to account with legislation being brought forward to require all new developers to belong to the Ombudsman. Developers will also have to belong to the new body by 2021 if they wish to participate in the government's landmark Help to Buy scheme.


However, redress for social housing residents is being considered separately with details expected to be published in spring 2019 as part of the government's response to the social housing green paper and the call for evidence for the review of social housing regulation.


Nevertheless, the government's response to the earlier consultation goes into a little more detail and sets out the direction of travel saying that the "ambition is for the new service to cover all housing tenures including tenants and leaseholders of social and private landlords as well as purchasers of new build homes and users of all residential property agents."   


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