27/02/2019

Housing disputes are surprisingly common with conflict arising between landlords and tenants and homeowners and developers for any number of reasons.

Knowing who can help and advise you when a dispute does occur can be less than clear, however, with several different complaint bodies in existence and, in some cases, no redress mechanism at all.

Thankfully the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has announced an overhaul of the complaints system for both the private rented sector and homeowners who buy new build homes.

The MHCLG has announced the following reforms:

  • The introduction of a new housing complaints resolution service, which will provide a streamlined redress system for the entire housing market.
    The service will provide a way to resolve complaints for housing consumers, when ‘in-house’ redress processes have been exhausted.
  • Private landlords will be required to become members of a redress scheme with fines of up to £5,000 if they do not comply.
  • The MHCLG has reiterated its intention to establish a New Homes Ombudsman to encourage greater confidence in the quality of new build homes. All new developers will be required to belong to the New Homes Ombudsman, and by 2021 the government’s Help to Buy Scheme will only be available to developers who have joined the ombudsman.
  • Redress for social housing tenants is being considered separately through the social housing green paper and the call for evidence for the review of social housing regulation due to be published in spring 2019.

Whether disagreements crop up in relation to repairs, maintenance, rent or deposits, the new housing complaints resolution service should ensure that homeowners, tenants and landlords know where to go to access help.

The move should create clarity and remove bureaucracy, making it easier for people to resolve issues and claim any compensation that might be owed.

Of course, if property disputes escalate or cannot be resolved through a complaints service, an expert solicitor can provide valuable assistance, but it makes perfect sense that initially landlords, tenants and homeowners should have access to single, accessible resolution service.