Tenants will find it easier to complain about shoddy accommodation and their landlords, once a new complaints system is in place. The government has started a consultation period with the aim of creating a more effective complaints process. The idea is to simplify the procedure so that disputes can be settled more quickly and tenants can get compensation if it is owed.
It is felt that the current system is so complex that it enables rogue landlords to exploit tenants and provide a shoddy service, knowing there is little risk of government or other official intervention. A report suggests that thousands of tenants do not get their complaints resolved because they have to find their way through four or more different services to find out where and how to register their complaint in the first place.
That is why the government is looking to set up a simplified complaints procedure as part of its aim to crack down on illegal or rogue landlords providing properties which are overcrowded or dangerous. Housing secretary, Sajid Javid, said that there is more to resolving the housing crisis than simply building more homes. He said it was also about making sure people get the answers they deserve if things go wrong. The answer could be to set up a single housing ombudsman to oversee the entire housing market. Other sectors, such as financial services, have a single ombudsman already, but there are more than four different complaints bodies overseeing housing. Also, landlords in the private rental sector are not obliged to register with any complaints system.
It makes sense to simplify procedures, but it is likely to be the professional landlords who sign up for the new service, while the rogue landlords remain working under the radar. More needs to be done to outlaw rogue landlords and illegal lets in the first place. Arguments have also been put forward to set up a register of rogue tenants who do not pay rent or who damage property. There should be some redress for landlords who are providing decent housing for the five million households living in rented accommodation in the UK.
It is agreed that something needs to be done very soon to solve or even to ease the housing crisis. Consultation with landlords, and not just tenants, would be a positive step in the right direction.
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