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Complaints procedure for home issues under review

Government launches consultation on complaints system for home issues

Woman with bucket in home

The government has launched an eight week consultation today which aims to shape a better complaints system for disputes with home issues.

The eight week consultation will look at a range of homeowner and tenant issues, from broken boilers to cracks in the walls, to consider what can be done to improve the complaints procedure.

Which? managing director of home products and services Alex Neill said: ‘The current system is inconsistent and confusing, so it’s hardly surprising that consumers don’t know where to turn if things go wrong with buying or renting a home.

‘Any government reforms must ensure consumers have easy and free access to help resolve their problems while also providing greater transparency about how housing complaints are handled, to drive improvements in the sector.’

What’s the redress problem for tenants and homeowners?

There are multiple providers of redress that cover some aspects of home buying and renting, but not all, and membership of ombudsman schemes is compulsory for some groups, but not for others.

In the private rented sector, there is currently no obligation for landlords to register with a complaints system and this can often leave thousands of tenants who do not use a property agent without a clear option for redress.

House builders are usually responsible for fixing incomplete work in new build homes, but many homeowners with snagging issues can find that they have nowhere left to turn when things go wrong.

If you find that you’re fobbed off by a builder when trying to get new build problems fixed, be persistent as many of them should be adhering to the Consumer Code for Home Builders.

Small problems can add up and be costly, so don’t settle for a finish that isn’t up to scratch.

What will the complaints procedure consultation look at?

The eight week consultation will aim to improve the complaints process across the market. Options being considered in the consultation include:

  • Introducing a single housing ombudsman to cover the whole of the housing market;
  • Requiring home builders to join an ombudsman scheme, following on the government’s commitment to expand redress to tenants of private landlords; and
  • Naming and shaming poor practice to help tackle the worst abuses.

Housing Secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘For too long, tenants and homeowners have navigated multiple complaints procedures to resolve disputes about everyday household repairs and maintenance.

‘Fixing this housing crisis is about more than just building homes, it’s ensuring people have the answers available when something goes wrong.’

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