For the first time ever, buy-to-let landlords will be legally required to become members of a redress scheme, as part of measures for a new Housing Complaints Resolution Service for the entire residential property market, it was announced yesterday.
Landlords that fail to become members of a redress scheme will face a fine of up to £5,000, under the plans unveiled by the housing secretary, James Brokenshire.
From broken boilers to cracks in the wall, it is hoped that the new Housing Complaints Resolution Service will help dissatisfied homeowners and tenants resolve disputes quickly.
Housing and Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said: “Creating a housing market that works for everyone isn’t just about building homes – it’s about ensuring people can get the help they need when something goes wrong.
“But all too often the process can be confusing and overly bureaucratic, leaving many homeowners and tenants feeling like there is nowhere to go in the event of problems with their home.
“The proposals I have announced will help ensure all residents are able to access help when they need it, so disputes can be resolved faster, and people can get compensation where it’s owed.”
News that private landlords will be legally required to join a housing redress scheme has been welcomed by Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action and brand ambassador for Hamilton Fraser.
He commented: “Personally, I think this is a really positive step, not only in boosting protection for millions of renters across the country but also for recognising landlording as the professional business that it should be.
“It will encourage landlords to focus on customer service and building relationships, as well as the quality of their properties, help to professionalise the industry and provide a level playing field for landlords and tenants.”
However, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has a number of concerns about the plans.
Policy director David Smith believes that the evidence the government has does not support the need for the changes. He also feels that little thought has been given about how all the new legislation will fit together and how it will be enforced.
The association is also concerned about the cost element.
Smith said: “It will be yet another cost and yet another layer of complexity, possibly with relatively little end product.
“We also need clarification on what the situation will be for landlords who use letting agents. Agents already have to be a member of a redress scheme – so landlords using them would be paying twice.”
No firm date has been set for the introduction of the new rules.