By using this website, you agree to our use of cookies to enhance your experience.
Graham Awards


Chaos! Confusion over identity and power of new Private Rental Ombudsman

The identify of the service running the upcoming Private Rental Sector Ombudsman scheme has been thrown into doubt once more.

The Renters Reform Bill promised that a scheme would be mandatory for landlords to join, and would be set up when the Bill became law. Recently it was stated by the government that its chosen provider for the scheme would be the Housing Ombudsman - the current redress service for the social renting sector.

This led to disappointment amongst bodies such as The Property Ombudsman and the Property Redress Service, who operate schemes now for lettings and sales agents and who it was thought may be considered for the new private rental scheme too.


However now the government appears much less certain about who will lead the private rental redress operation. 

Baroness Scott of Bybrook - a junior housing minister who sits in the House of Lords - has told Peers: “We announced our preference to deliver through the Housing Ombudsman service, which provides social housing redress. However, no final decision has been made, and our priority is choosing a provider that offers the high-quality and value-for-money service we require.”

Answering questions from Peers, the Baroness continued: “First, we have sought extensive procurement and legal advice on this, and we are confident that the approach we are taking [to selecting the Ombudsman service] is in line with procurement regulations. I can only reiterate that this work is still in its very early stages, and no decisions have been made. Of course, we will talk to stakeholders throughout the whole of the process. If the noble Baroness or any other noble Lord would like to meet me and my team, I am happy to do so as we go forward.

“Secondly, the question on the interaction between [the different property redress] schemes is very interesting. We envisage that, where a complaint covers both landlords and letting agents, the separate schemes will work together to triage the complaint effectively and, if necessary, have a joint investigation. Importantly, we want to make sure that, where it is not clear which scheme a tenant should complain to, there is no wrong access point. We will work together to make sure that the tenant gets the service that they require.”

Peers raised concerns over the apparent duplication of powers and responsibilities of the various redress schemes in existence and the new one promised.

The Baroness went on to say in response to questions on this subject: “As far as powers are concerned, the Bill says that the ombudsman’s enforcement powers will be to expel the landlord from membership of the organisation unless they deal with their obligations and then rejoin, and they will be liable for civil and, in the worst cases, legal penalties if they continue to operate without that membership. 

“Those are quite strong powers that will back up local authorities’ powers. On the scheme’s funding, it will be a landlord membership scheme, as is the Housing Ombudsman scheme. Membership of that scheme is at £5.75 per unit.”

And she added that: “The ombudsman will complement local authority decisions and back them up … We intend to have the redress available as soon as we can after the Bill receives Royal Assent. We are working on that strongly at the moment, because it is an important service for tenants … As we move to a new ombudsman for the private rented sector, we will continue to have a strong campaign to ensure that all rented sector tenants understand their rights.”

Want to comment on this story? Our focus is on providing a platform for you to share your insights and views and we welcome contributions.
If any post is considered to victimise, harass, degrade or intimidate an individual or group of individuals, then the post may be deleted and the individual immediately banned from posting in future.
Please help us by reporting comments you consider to be unduly offensive so we can review and take action if necessary. Thank you.

  • icon

    I think tenants are already fully aware of their rights. I have been a landlord for 40 years with a very happy relationship with my tenants. The whole climate is now changing and becoming very onerous. We have no one to fight our corner. I gave up membership of NRLA 7 years ago as I didn’t feel they had my interests at heart and were becoming a government mouthpiece.

  • icon

    The PRS to become fully part of the state?! I have no hesitation in calling the PRS corrupt.
    I apologise for the below long post but if it saves you wasting time going to the PRS it will be worth it.

    I have a flat in a building of 105 apartments that have its own "management company".. The leaseholders elect the boad of the management company and the board appoint a managing agent. I have wanted to replace the current management board in order to replace current managing Agent for years. But with 80% of the apartments let out, I need the names and addresses of the other owners as there can't be fair elections if I can't contact all owners. Such information is called "the register" and I am legally entitled to it.
    (N. B in the past when I have had access to the "Register" I have increased participation in elections to the management board from a regular 5-6 % to 42%.)
    However the Agent ignored my repeated requests for the Register.

    The Agent also ceased inviting me to meetings of the leaseholder Management Company.

    I could only complain to the PRS about the last six months, so I complained of my last application for the Register being ignored and of not being invited to the last Management Company meeting.

    The PRS refused to look at the ignoring my application for the Register as it was a "business matter".. However they were prepared to look at the lack of an invite to the last meeting of the Management Company.

    They appeared to be willing to do this as the managening agent provided them with a (supposed) copy of an invite to me to the last meeting.

    However the invite was sent to an out of date address (for me) and dated not only after the meeting but after I had complained to both the managing agent and then to the PRS.
    The managing agent had previously confirmed my current address in a SAR and previously been using it; including in legal proceedings where I had successfully contested service charge costs.
    I pointed out the above to the PRS and said that it seemed an old invite letter had been retrieved from the Agent's data base and the old letter incorrectly ammended. As I had not been invited to meetings for years, any retrevied historical invite would have had my old address.
    After I pointed out the above. The stage one (of two) determination of the PRS ignored the contradiction in dealing with just one of the two complaints.

    And said I had been invited to the meeting as they had a copy!

    Maybe stage one was a junior incompetent? I appealed and it was dealt with by their senior adjudicator, the highly qualified Mr Sean Hooker.

    He however also ignored the contradiction on only dealing with one of the two complaints (despite the 'Terms of Reference' of the PRS specifically saying they would address any failure of a managing agent to fail to do something it should legally do.)

    In respect to the invite (supposedly) sent three months after the meeting and to the wrong address..? Mr Hooker, without elaboration, said it had been sent "late" and gave the Agent a £50 fine!

    The PRS, and particularly Mr Hooker, are unfit for public service and to be part of any government Ombudsman.


Please login to comment

MovePal MovePal MovePal
sign up