Ombudsman Services withdraws from property sector

Ombudsman Services withdraws from property sector

0:02 AM, 6th February 2018, About 6 years ago 7

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Ombudsman Services (OS) has today announced that it will withdraw from complaints handling in the property sector as it launches a major dialogue with consumers to help tackle an ‘imbalance in power’ in the housing sector.

The not-for-profit organisation, which is the largest multi-sector Ombudsman in the UK, will work with charities, consumer groups, property professionals and the public on a major report around the creation of a single housing ombudsman for submission to MHCLG in the spring.

In the meantime, OS will begin a managed withdrawal from the current schemes it operates for surveyors, managing agents, estate agents and letting agents by 6 August 2018.

OS envisages a model similar to that outlined by Secretary of State Sajid Javid in his November NHBC speech, which echoes the model currently used in the Finance and Energy sectors; an effective regulator supported by a single ombudsman and a strong advice and advocacy service for consumers.

To ensure that the new model addresses issues currently faced by consumers, OS wants to consult with the public about the shape of the service, understand key ‘pain points’ for renters, tenants and home-buyers and model potential demand.

Commenting on the announcement, Chief Ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith said: “Redress in the housing sector is a really confusing picture for all involved. The patchwork of ADR and ombudsman schemes is a mystery to consumers and therefore is incredibly difficult for them to navigate.

 “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.

 “We fully support Sajid Javid regarding the need for a single ombudsman for housing – only then will the housing sector be able to restore trust and ensure that consumers get a much better standard of service.

 “Housing is one of the biggest issues we face as a nation and a fair, balanced, redress system will make sure that it serves the whole of society. We want to work to develop a model that works for everyone.”

More details of the dialogue will be announced in March.

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Luke P

8:12 AM, 6th February 2018, About 6 years ago

I can understand the call for one (rather than three) ombudsmen to prevent confusion and differing standards, but they are talking about a 'regulator' that is then supported by an ombudsman…

Time to exit if you ask me!

Annie Landlord

8:21 AM, 6th February 2018, About 6 years ago

To include complaints from the social rented sector too?
I have only used the Property Ombudsman once. Against a lettings agent that didn't do an inventory yet charged both the tenant and I for it and then stalled me for weeks when I asked for a copy. The PO ruled in my favour, which obviously I was pleased about, but it took several months, because they kept saying they had more work than they could handle. Perhaps they are just overloaded and feel they are not being paid enough?

terry sullivan

12:16 PM, 6th February 2018, About 6 years ago

a gravy train, nothing else

the fca and energy regulators are worse than useless

Adam Hosker

16:32 PM, 6th February 2018, About 6 years ago

Let me get this right a Property Ombudsman quits due to high competition. Asks for a monopoly? Yeah, I could have guessed that responce. 🤣
Im going to try that with local council "All the other landlords are getting more tenants in there HMOs. Mine is not as good. So lets get rid of all the other landlords so they have to use me."

Luk Udav

11:33 AM, 7th February 2018, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Adam Hosker at 06/02/2018 - 16:32
Adam, if there is more than one ombudsman the regulated companies play one off against the other. I can cite EE who swapped ombudsman when they were rightly losing rather a lot of cases with their existing one.
The weakness is the regulators who all seem to get captured.

16:27 PM, 7th February 2018, About 6 years ago

Obfuscated Data

David Bryan

19:01 PM, 7th February 2018, About 6 years ago

Whilst this is sad for those who are at risk with their employment, this is the right move by Ombudsman Services. The current property ADR is confusing and I’ve had friends and family who have been at breaking point over letting agent issues.
The regulation is inadequate and there needs to be a single Ombudsman per sector. An Ombudsman that not only deals with complaints but is innovative and uses complaints to help companies improve.
It makes no sense that member companies (or participating companies) can choose the ADR that suits them - what may suit a company and its profit margins may not be what’s best for the consumer (maybe cheaper but provides less sufficient feedback and help to improve companies).
Companies should not have the option and I welcome Martin Lewis’ “sharper Teeth” paper in November 2017.
Bold move made by OS and one that may finally kick things in to touch! Ceasing business and jobs is very bold, but so much respect for making significant sacrifices to drive change for the better!
Sajid Javids proposal along with the drive to make change will improve (in time) for all consumers who need better service!

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