The Government has announced proposals to set up a new complaints service covering the whole housing market. The new Housing Complaints Resolution Service will be designed to provide both homeowners and tenants with “simple and quick” access to help when things go wrong. The service will cover everything from broken boilers to cracks in the wall, the Government states.

The proposals form part of the Government response to the Strengthening Consumer Redress in Housing consultation which ran last year.

Under current arrangements, the housing market has several different complaints bodies. This has led to concerns that homeowners and tenants often have to navigate their way through a “complicated and bureaucratic” system just to work out where to register a grievance. In addition, in the private rented sector there is no obligation for landlords to register with a complaints system at all. The Government acknowledges that this presently leaves thousands of renters without any course for redress.

The Government states that its proposal to establish a single housing complaints service for all residents, no matter whether they rent or own their home, will make things easier and prevent people from having to battle to resolve issues on their own. It will also make it easier for people to claim compensation.

In an additional move, private landlords will, in future, be legally required to become members of a redress scheme. They could be fined up to £5000 if they fail to do so.

And for people who buy new-build homes the Government has also restated the commitment it made in October 2018 to establish a New Homes Ombudsman to protect their interests and hold developers to account. Legislation will be brought forward to require all new developers to belong to the Ombudsman.

Making the announcement, Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, said:

“Creating a housing market that works for everyone isn’t just about building homes — it’s about ensuring people can get the help they need when something goes wrong.

“But all too often the process can be confusing and overly bureaucratic, leaving many homeowners and tenants feeling like there is nowhere to go in the event of problems with their home.

“The proposals I have announced today will help ensure all residents are able to access help when they need it, so disputes can be resolved faster, and people can get compensation where it’s owed.”

The consultation papers can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Last reviewed 8 February 2019