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redress scheme announces departure from property regulation

9 March 2018

On 6 February 2018, the Ombudsman Services accounted its intention to withdraw from handling complaints in the property sector as of 6 August 2018. The Ombudsman Services is one of the three core redress schemes which property professionals, including all estate and letting agents, have been required to be members of since October 2014. 

The decision comes in the wake of the increased regulatory reforms being imposed on the property industry, such as the mandatory licencing of landlords across many local authorities, along with the introduction of the controversial letting fees ban, which is expected to be implemented in early 2019. The Ombudsman Services cited their decision as being because they were “not prepared to continue to add to the complex landscape in housing in terms of redress as we currently do by operating OS:P.

The remaining redress schemes - The Property Ombudsman and The Property Redress Scheme - continue to operate as before, however the recent decision by the Ombudsman Services has brought with it suggestions about whether these bodies should be merged to form on overarching regulatory body. In announcing their decision, the Ombudsman also stated that “OS has long supported the policy position of having in a sector a strong regulator or regulatory model, with a single ombudsman, and clear consumer advocacy.”

Whether this suggestion will be implemented is unknown at this time, but in light of the recent announcement, all property professionals who were members of the Ombudsman Services should take steps to review their positions and ensure that they have signed up with an alternative redress scheme ahead of the 6 August 2018 deadline.

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