Building Balance

 Housing is one of the biggest issues we face as a nation, but the current system for resolving complaints is broken. This is why we decided to withdraw from the property sector from August 2018.

We had long suspected that the complaints landscape in housing wasn’t working for consumers. During our ten years helping consumers with complaints in the housing sector we had seen time and again the impact of dealing with such a confusing and complicated system.

Building Balance, which collected views from tenants, renters, homeowners, landlords and those working in property, confirmed our assessment; it’s difficult to know where to go to complain, the current system is ineffective and, with patchy regulation, it doesn’t provide the protection that consumers need.

We believe a fair, balanced system is required. One that has the legal powers to put things right, serves the whole of society and gives people a voice when it comes to their homes.

We agree with the assessment made by Secretary of State Sajid Javid in his November NHBC speech, that redress works more efficiently for consumers when a single ombudsman is in place.

We know from our experience in the energy sector that an effective regulator, supported by a single ombudsman, and a strong advice and advocacy service for consumers can work extremely well for reducing consumer detriment and help companies in the sector improve their processes.

Building Balance, which was submitted to the Government’s consultation on housing redress in April 2018, is based on a detailed dialogue and research with consumers and feedback from stakeholders as well as wider academic context, supporting the formation of a similar model in housing.

Introducing a single ombudsman for housing would allow the Government to put consumers at the heart of the housing sector, and help to rebuild trust between businesses and consumers.

In the long run, the sector would be more fair and transparent for everyone.

  • The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government should put consumers at the heart of the sector, offering a simple complaints journey, strong regulation and easy access to help and advice for consumers
  • The creation of a single ombudsman for housing (supported by the vast majority - 84 per cent - of Building Balance respondents) that is underpinned by statute
  • The introduction of consistent standards that firms operating in the housing sector must comply with when handling complaints to provide clarity for consumers