Ombudsman Services withdraws from housing market

Ombudsman Services (OS) has announced its withdrawal from the property sector.

Describing redress in the sector as too confusing for those involved, the organisation has declared it will no longer offer “a broken solution to a broken market.

The withdrawal process is set to be completed by 6 August 2018.

In the meantime, the OS seeks to work collaboratively with a number of consumer groups, charities and industry professionals on a report backing the creation of a single housing ombudsman. This will then be put before the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government.

One of the key aims of the new model’s creation, according to Lewis Shand Smith, is to deal with issues which the public are currently facing. The chief Ombudsman stated:

‘Redress in the housing sector is a really confusing picture for all involved. The patchwork of ADR and ombudsman schemes is a mystery to consumers and therefore is incredibly difficult for them to navigate.

‘We are ceasing what we’re currently doing in the housing sector in a professional and planned way, because we believe it is not adding value. Rather than continue to offer a broken solution to a broken market, we are stepping away to listen to what consumers actually want.’

He went on to highlight the existence of alternate structures within different sectors, reiterating that the current model needs to be reviewed.

‘There are models in other sectors that work far better, for instance the single ombudsman model in financial services and the scheme we operate in energy which handles around 40,000 complaints every year.

‘Housing is one of the biggest issues we face as a nation and a fair, balanced, redress system will make sure that it serves the whole of society. We want to work to develop a model that works for everyone.’

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