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Ombudsman could help homeowners and tenants seek redress

The government may appoint a housing ombudsman to help people settle disputes if they face problems relating to property.

The idea was put forward by the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid as he discussed government plans to provide an extra 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.

Currently, there are four government approved providers of redress that cover some aspects of home buying and renting, but not all. Membership of ombudsman schemes is compulsory for some groups, but not for others.

The government will now consult with consumers and the property industry, and look at options to explore how the overlap between responsibilities can be improved. This would help to avoid the confusion faced by consumers over where to seek help.

It’s thought a single ombudsman could help provide more comprehensive redress for home owners, home buyers, tenants and landlords.

Mr Javid said: “Homes are not only the biggest financial investment in our lives, but also provide security, and so it’s only right that developers and builders are held to a higher standard.

“That’s why we are looking at bold options to improve redress– including whether housing, like other sectors, should have a single ombudsman. This could help drive up standards across the whole industry and increase protections for consumers.”

So far, the government has announced a range of measures to boost the housing market, including:

• £44 billion over the next 5 years in capital funding, loans and guarantees
• a new National House Building Fund, with more than £15 billion of new financial support over the next 5 years
• planning reforms to ensure more land is available for housing and maximise the potential of our cities and towns to build new homes while protecting the green belt.

We shall keep clients informed of developments.

Please contact us if you would like advice about the legal aspects of buying or selling a property.