Christopher Hamer The Property Ombudsman took up his current post in 2006.
Prior to this he was the Private Secretary to the Parliamentary Commissioner, Director of Services at the Insurance Ombudsman and the General Manager at the Personal Investment Authority Ombudsman Bureau.
Immediately before taking up his position as The Property Ombudsman Christopher worked in a global compliance role for a major international bank.
We asked Christopher what he perceives to be the main challenges facing the PRS in the next 5 years?
The main challenge for the sector is keeping out the ‘rogue’ element, either landlords or letting agents, both of which have a financial interest in putting tenants into accommodation, and this ‘rogue’ element could well do that regardless of the state of the property, whether it is safe or even fit for habitation.
A proper but measured regulatory regime is needed to ensure that all agents operate to a consistent set of standards and a consistent approach to protection of clients’ money. Many local authorities are now looking at how they can licence landlords – that will be a complicated task, but its success will obviously bring benefits to the sector.
What opportunities do you envisage for the PRS in the next 5 years?
More and more people are choosing to rent property rather than buy. This is likely to be a long term approach and as a result tenants will become more knowledgeable (although I remain convinced that there needs to be some coordinated approach to consumer education in regard to being a tenant or indeed a landlord).
It will therefore be the good quality rental property, that meets proper standards of safety, comfort and facilities, that will be sought by tenants. Landlords should take note of this growing tenant awareness and not abdicate their responsibilities for providing habitable accommodation and looking after it for the tenant. If an appropriate regulatory regime was introduced, that could drive out the bad landlords and the bad agents who currently distort people’s view of the sector.
How would you describe the roll of your organisation?
Independent, impartial facility for the resolution of disputes in the property sector. TPO’s Code of Practice sets the standards for the sector.
How do you see your organisation working with “The GOOD Landlords Campaign”?
It is imperative that both parties to the tenancy agreement fully understand the obligations they have entered into. The agent has a key role here and together with absolute transparency of fees etc, the Good Landlords Campaign should give prospective tenants and landlords greater comfort.