Landlords will soon need to register with a compulsory redress scheme to solve tenant disputes, the housing minister Sajid Javid has announced – amid concerns that tenants face unfair fees and substandard treatment.
Such schemes generally offer legally binding dispute resolution systems and require members to comply with the scheme’s code of conduct.
But the latest figures show that nearly all members of the Housing Ombudsman Service (HOS) are social landlords such as housing associations – who must join by law. Private landlords can choose to join voluntarily, but just 71 had done so at the latest count.
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government also revealed plans for a new housing court, as well as incentives for long-term tenancies.
It forms part of the Government’s plan to hand tenants greater powers to challenge unfair and unreasonable behaviour from their landlords.
The government will “insist that all landlords are part of a redress scheme”, said Mr Javid.
“For too long, tenants have felt unable to resolve the issues they’ve faced, be it insecure tenure, unfair letting agents’ fees or poor treatment by their landlord with little means of redress. We’re going to change that.”
According to HOS figures, the Ombudsman closed 15,877 cases in 2016/17 – the majority stemming from assured tenants raising concerns about repairs to their property.
Further details of the proposed redress scheme are expected to be revealed in this year’s Autumn Budget on 22 November.