As of this month, there are only two government-approved redress schemes operating in the housing market. This follows Ombudsman Services: Property's withdrawal from the sector on August 6.
This means that agents must now be registered with either The Property Ombudsman Scheme or The Property Redress Scheme or they will be acting illegally.
Agents that aren't a member of a valid redress scheme could be fined up to £5,000 and could have their licence revoked.
It remains vital that all estate and letting agents are members of a valid redress scheme so that consumers have the means to lodge a complaint should they feel inclined.
Why did Ombudsman Services quit the property market?
Ombudsman Services: Property announced back in February that it would be quitting the property sector in August. The organisation is in favour of there being just one single ombudsman serving the housing sector, something which the government consulted on in April.
The departing redress scheme said that the existing system is 'confusing' for consumers and that it didn't want to continue offering 'a broken solution for a broken market'.
Whether Ombudsman Services - which continues to operate in the communications, energy and copyright sectors - returns to property with the aim of being the single provider of redress depends on the government's intentions and therefore remains to be seen at this stage.
What now for redress?
We await the outcome of the government's consultation on the benefits of introducing a single ombudsman for housing.
Former Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary and now Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, is known to be particularly keen on the idea, previously stating:
“The government will 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.”
“The time is right to look at what can be done to improve the means of securing redress right across the housing sector. One of the options to do that is to create a new Housing Ombudsman - a single, transparent and accountable body with a remit that covers the whole of the housing sector including both private and social landlords and the providers of new-build homes.”
“Research in other sectors has shown that redress works more efficiently for consumers when there’s a single ombudsman in place.”
Until the outcome of the consultation becomes clear, there are just two redress schemes operating as normal and agents must make sure they are a member of one of them.
Reduce the chances of consumer complaints
As an agent, it's important that you do everything within your power to provide the best service possible and reduce the likelihood that a consumer would want to make a complaint against your business.
Of course, as we can see, it's important that you are a member of a valid redress scheme so that consumers have the power to lodge a complaint should they wish to.
However, one thing you can do to help keep customers happy is make sure your website and software are up to scratch.
Our property software, which incorporates an all-in-one, cloud-based system, can help you to keep on top of call-backs, diary appointments, valuations and instructions – all of which are crucial to maintaining high levels of customer service.
What’s more, our tailored log-in areas for consumers allow you to provide customer support and communication which stands out in a crowded market and ensures your clients are being looked after.
It’s also important to have a great website which customers can navigate easily and find everything they need. Our websites – which are fully optimised on all devices – offer a range of cutting-edge features while looking the part.