Property ombudsman on the cards

Property leaders and interested groups are investigating the establishment of a single, national property ombudsman to deal with consumer complaints.

The property ombudsman would act as a single point of entry or one stop shop for any consumer requiring access to redress in the property sector.

The current structure of the industry presents consumers with a confusing array of alternatives if they wish to complain about professional property services. Many different redress schemes cover the house buying, selling or letting processes. A national property ombudsman would mean that these schemes could continue, but they would work together to provide consumers with a single point of entry and an easy route to the right ombudsman for their problem.

At a meeting held on October 17 2005, chaired by Louis Armstrong, CEO of Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, the group agreed that a working group be established to look at how and by when the property ombudsman could be delivered.

Participants issued a statement highlighting the “glaring need” to simplify the process for consumers.

It says: “Our discussions today begin a process that should benefit consumers and demonstrate that this industry has a fair and professional approach to the interests of its customers.

“A single property ombudsman encompassing the existing schemes of the Association of Residential Letting Agents, National Association of Estate Agents, RICS, Ombudsman for Estate Agents and the Housing Ombudsman, while integrating a number of current government initiatives, would provide the clarity and reassurance consumers need when seeking redress.”