The government’s “powerful new Ombudsman” in its own words

The government has pledged to launch a “powerful new Ombudsman” to solve disputes between landlords with renters. Here’s the information published about the Ombudsman, as detailed in the White Paper ‘A Fairer Private Rented Sector

A new Ombudsman covering all private landlords

The government is committed to making sure that PRS tenants have the same access to redress as those living in other types of housing. That is why we will introduce a single government-approved Ombudsman covering all private landlords who rent out property in England, regardless of whether they use an agent. This will ensure that all tenants have access to redress services in any given situation, and that landlords remain accountable for their own conduct and legal responsibilities. Making membership of an Ombudsman scheme mandatory for landlords who use managing agents will mitigate the situation where a good agent is trying to remedy a complaint but is reliant on a landlord who is refusing to engage.

Ombudsmen protect consumer rights. They provide fair, impartial, and binding resolutions for many issues without resorting to court. This will be quicker, cheaper, less adversarial, and more proportionate than the court system. A single scheme will mean a streamlined service for tenants and landlords, avoiding the confusion and perverse incentives resulting from competitive schemes. As well as resolving individual disputes, an Ombudsman can tackle the root cause of problems, address systemic issues, provide feedback and education to members and consumers, and offer support for vulnerable consumers. We will explore streamlining the requirement for landlords to provide details to both an Ombudsman and a digital Property Portal, including identifying a viable way to link datasets.

The new Ombudsman will allow tenants to seek redress for free, where they have a complaint about their tenancy. This could include complaints about the behaviour of the landlord, the standards of the property or where repairs have not been completed within a reasonable timeframe. We will make membership of the Ombudsman mandatory and local councils will be able to take enforcement action against landlords that fail to join the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman will have powers to put things right for tenants, including compelling landlords to issue an apology, provide information, take remedial action, and/or pay compensation of up to £25,000. As part of providing compensation, we also intend for the Ombudsman to be able to require landlords to reimburse rent to tenants where the service or standard of property they provide falls short of the mark. In keeping with standard practice, the Ombudsman’s decision will be binding on landlords, should the complainant accept the final determination. Failure to comply with a decision may result in repeat or serious offenders being liable for a Banning Order. The government will also retain discretionary powers to enable the Ombudsman’s decisions to be enforced through the Courts if levels of compliance become a concern.

We will explore extending mandatory membership of a redress scheme to residential park home operators, private providers of purpose-built student accommodation and property guardian companies. This would provide access to redress for residents across approximately 2,000 park homes sites in England, 30% of university students living in purpose-built student accommodation, and approximately 5,000 to 7,000 property guardians.

The White Paper

Comments 2

  1. Hopefully if such a scheme is introduced it will do away with the need for property licensing but I guess the greedy councils with still want the PRS to fund them.

  2. I guess landlords will have to pay to register with the “powerful new ombudsman scheme”. It will of course I expect be free for tenants. Looks like a landlord bashing scheme to me. For tenants “The Ombudsman will have powers to put things right for tenants, including compelling landlords to issue an apology, provide information, take remedial action, and/or pay compensation of up to £25,000” Looks like a one-way street, no mention of it doing anything for landlords except costing them money. This will be a godsend for all those tenants that like to complain about damp and mould that is mostly their own doing, Shelter and Generation rent must be rubbing their hands together.

    Homes will be inspected to make sure that they comply with the decent homes standard. This is Landlord registration by the back door. Who will decide if a rented property meets the decent homes standard? The local Council. It’s close but PRS tenants are more likely to be satisfied with the quality of their homes (even though they are paying more for them) than social tenants. So Councils should put their own house(s) in order first. I assume landlords will have to pay for some sort of Decent Homes inspection every time a new tenant moves in? My experience tells me that quite often what is a decent home at the start of a tenancy is not all that decent at the end of a tenancy. Another cost to be passed onto tenants along with all the others.

    All this supposes that somehow all the rogue landlords will volunteer themselves for registration on these new schemes. Of course they won’t, they operate outside the system. They are the ones with the non-decent homes. Many of them have tenants that also want to stay out of the system so they will never come forward either. The Councils will have to find them first. They won’t make much effort as eliminating the rogues would leave them with the burden of actually housing all the unfortunate ex-rogue tenants.

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