24 Jan 2019 - The Government has proposed assigning the resolution of tenants complaints about repair issues to the Ombudsman for Buy to Let properties. Whether this is to be a new Ombudsman to replace The Property Ombudsman and Property Redress Scheme is not yet clear, nor do we know if Landlords using Managing Agents who are Redress Scheme members need to join the new scheme.
There are already two redress schemes operating in the Private Rented Sector
The Property Ombudsman Scheme www.tpos.co.uk
Property Redress Scheme www.theprs.co.uk
However, the government has given the go-ahead to a complaints service for buy to let tenants.
Communities secretary James Brokenshire has confirmed all private landlords in England will have to sign up for the scheme which will allow tenants to claim compensation if landlords have failed to maintain their rented homes. It is not clear at this point if the Managing Agents membership is adequate where a Managing Agent has full management responsibility, or whether the Landlord has to also join as an individual.
The aim is to raise buy to let living standards while giving tenants a fast-track to resolving repair and maintenance issues with landlords, like broken boilers and damp. Most landlords already deal with these issues, but occasionally there are disputes and this should go some way to resolve them. Hopefully once this is in place, tenants will be less likely to pursue the "No Win No Fee" legal route and instead accept the findings of the Ombudsman. Only if the Landlord fails to comply with the Ombudsman recommendations would legal action be an avenue for the tenant to take.
The Housing Complaints Resolution Service will be compulsory for buy to let landlords, with a £5,000 fine for failing to join "the scheme". But exactly what scheme is not yet clear.
Private landlords currently have no obligation to belong to a complaints body, but this has been a legal requirement for letting agents since 2014.
The Redress Schemes for Lettings Agency Work and Property Management Work (Requirement to Belong to a Scheme etc) (England) Order 2014
Brokenshire also wants to overhaul the fragmented number of housing complaints bodies into a more streamlined and less complicated service.