Renters and home owners asked how housing complaints system could be improved

A body which resolves consumers' gripes wants to hear from renters and home owners as it looks at how complaints handling in the housing sector could be improved.

Ombudsman Services (OS) said the way complaints are handled in housing "is in desperate need of an overhaul" with many finding the existing patchwork of alternative dispute resolution and ombudsman schemes confusing.

A third (33%) of people say they have no idea where to go if they have a complaint, and a further 43% agree that consumer protection is not good enough in the sector, a survey over 2,000 people commissioned by the ombudsman in February found.

Ombudsman Services is inviting renters, home owners and those working in the sector to have their say about the problems they have faced, their experiences of complaining and how they would recommend changing the complaints system, by going to and filling in a questionnaire.

Issues might include paying a high price for poor housing, a landlord who ignored complaints or a builder who provided an inadequate service, the ombudsman body said.

It wants people to say what happened, what they did about it and whether the problem was resolved.
Responses should be received by Thursday April 5.

In February, OS said it planned to withdraw from complaints handling in the property sector from August and that it would 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.

OS will use the findings from its new initiative to understand key "pain points" for tenants and home buyers and consult with them about the shape of a new service. It said the findings will be presented to the Government.

Chief ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith said: "During our 10 years helping consumers with complaints in the housing sector, we have seen first-hand the impact that the confusing and complicated system has had on them.

"Housing is one of the biggest issues we face as a nation, but the current system for resolving complaints is broken."

He continued: "Whether you're a renter, tenant, homeowner or work in the property sector, we want to hear from you. Please visit today and tell us what you think."