Tenant News

Redress System for Housing is ‘Ineffective, Confusing and Complicated’

Jess Goodridge - May 3, 2018

The results of recent data from Ombudsman Services (OS) and Building Balance has found that almost 7 in 10 people find the existing redress system for complaining about housing confusing. This survey compiles its results from more than 400 renters, tenants and homeowners who took part.

The report forms part of a major dialogue on how complaints should be handled across the housing and property sector – with finding ways to better protect consumers the end goal.

Key findings included:

  • 69% of respondents admitted they find the system for complaints confusing
  • 55% found that they didn’t know where to go when they needed to make a complaint about housing and property
  • 84% said they’d prefer the creation of a single housing ombudsman

Commonly found housing complaints

In addition to the statistics above, which seem to indicate a need for change, responses also indicated the most common housing issues reported to the redress system by consumers. The most common were found to be with new build properties (56% of participants), maintenance and upkeep of the property (10%), and problems with the letting agent or estate agency (10%), as well as problems with parking, asbestos, theft, dangerous electrics and gas leaks.

More complex issues were also reported, with details varying on a more individual basis. Some examples included one tenant who was too afraid of being evicted to report a severe mould problem, and a pair of neighbours who were faced with a £500,00 bill to make their new build homes safe to live in.

The results of this report also follow on from the Property Redress Scheme’s annual report, which was released on the 13th of April. This showed that there had been a 61% rise in complaints notifications overall, when compared to the previous year.

The redress system for housing is currently ‘ineffective, confusing and complicated’

The redress system for housing is currently ‘ineffective, confusing and complicated’

In response to the findings, recommendations that the report put forward are summarised below:

  • The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government should put consumers at the heart of the sector, offering a simple complaints journey, strong regulation and easy access to help and advice for consumers.
  • In keeping with the 84% of respondents who backed the idea, the report puts forward the recommendation of a single ombudsman for housing and property
  • Consistent standards to be introduced which firms operating within the sector must comply with. This is intended to provide clarity on the process to consumers and firms alike

Chief ombudsman, Lewis Shand Smith, said: “Our Building Balance dialogue has given us a clear remit to call for change.

“The current system for redress in housing is ineffective, confusing and complicated, and clearly doesn’t provide the service that consumers need. The recommendations put forward in our report are underpinned by real insights, as well as the experience we have gathered during our 10 years of helping consumers with complaints in the housing sector.

“For example, the dialogue showed overwhelming support for the creation of a single ombudsman. We know this model can work well – the scheme we operate in energy handles around 40,000 complaints every year, and with oversight of the whole sector we’re able to identify issues and help companies improve their processes to reduce consumer detriment.

“Now it’s up to the government to take our recommendations forward and put into place a new system; one that is fair, balanced and has the legal powers to put things right.”