Ombudsman Services stepping away from 'broken' housing market

A body which resolves consumers' gripes about businesses is to withdraw from complaints handling in the property sector.

Ombudsman Services (OS) said it would start a managed withdrawal from the current schemes it operates for surveyors, managing agents, estate agents and letting agents by August 6.

The not-for-profit organisation, which also operates in the communications and energy sectors, is one of several services which clears up disputes in the property sector, including the Property Ombudsman and the Housing Ombudsman Service.

OS's chief ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith said: "Redress in the housing sector is a really confusing picture for all involved," adding that there was a "patchwork" of schemes.

He continued: "We are ceasing what we're currently doing in the housing sector in a professional and planned way, because we believe it is not adding value.

"Rather than continue to offer a broken solution to a broken market, we are stepping away to listen to what consumers actually want.

"There are models in other sectors that work far better - for instance the single ombudsman model in financial services and the scheme we operate in energy which handles around 40,000 complaints every year."

OS said it now planned to work with other bodies on a major report around the creation of a single housing ombudsman for submission in the spring.

In November, the Government said it would look at "bold options" to improve consumer redress across the housing sector.

The Government suggested a single housing ombudsman could potentially help to provide more comprehensive redress for home owners, home buyers, tenants and landlords.