The Ombudsman Services (OS) is no longer handling consumer complaints in the property and housing sector after withdrawing from the industry.
The OS has now started a managed withdrawal from the existing schemes it operates for surveyors, managing agents, estate agents and letting agents, with yesterday marking its last day handling consumer complaints in the sector.
As most of you will know, letting agents are required to belong to a valid redress scheme. But it would appear that a small number of companies may not yet have switched to one of the two remaining redress schemes – The Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme.
The OS has contacted participating property and housing companies on several occasions, as part of a comprehensive communications and awareness campaign, to let them know that it is withdrawing from the sector.
But while many firms have taken the important step of signing up with a different scheme, Nicolette Granite, an ombudsman at Ombudsman Services, reports that some firms may not yet have made the transition.
She said: “It’s possible that a small number of companies may have missed the deadline.”
If letting agents registered with the OS fail to switch to one of the two remaining schemes, this will result in the prevention of access to free dispute resolution services.
If you use the service provided by a letting agent, make sure they have registered with either The Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme.
“Consumers can be assured that, if their complaint falls within our terms of reference and was accepted by us on or before 6 August, it will be investigated through to resolution,” Granite added.
Ombudsman Services announced in February that it would stop handling property and housing complaints after 6 August.
The not-for-profit organisation, which is one of the UK’s largest multi-sector ombudsman scheme providers, believes that the existing system of housing redress is overly complex and confusing for consumers.
OS is urging the government to introduce a single ombudsman for the housing and property sector – an idea that was put forward in a Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government consultation earlier this year.