Overhaul of housing complaints system outlined by Government

Dissatisfied home owners and tenants in England are to be given more simple and quick access to help when something goes wrong, under Government plans.

A new housing complaints resolution service aims to provide a straightforward way for people to get help when faced with unresolved disputes about problems with their home, such as repairs and maintenance.

The housing market has several different complaints bodies, with home owners and tenants having to navigate their way through the system to work out who to complain to.

The Government said that a single housing complaints service for renters and home owners will prevent people from battling with their landlord or builder to resolve issues on their own and make it easier to claim compensation.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said: “All too often the process can be confusing and overly bureaucratic, leaving many home owners and tenants feeling like there is nowhere to go in the event of problems with their home.”

The Government said that in the private rented sector, there is currently no obligation for landlords to register with a complaints system, leaving thousands of renters without any course for redress.

In an attempt to combat this, private landlords will be legally required to become members of a redress scheme, with a fine of up to £5,000 if they fail to do so.

And to protect the interests of home owners who buy new-build homes, the Government said it is committed to establishing a new homes ombudsman.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “People who rent shabby or unsafe homes face a risky, costly and complicated process when they want to complain.

“This single portal for renters to solve their problems, which landlords must legally join, is great news.

“However, it’s important the housing complaints resolution service is free, easy to navigate and protects renters from ‘revenge eviction’ if they complain.

“We look forward to working with the Government to make sure this service is fit for purpose and is legislated for as soon as possible.”