UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA) joins Ombudsman Services

by Communications Team | Mar 28, 2014

UKALA – the association representing 500 letting and management agents operating in the private rented sector across the UK – has chosen Ombudsman Services as its redress provider of choice. UKALA, whose members are required to have a complaints handling procedure and abide by UKALA’s code of practice, will now have access to an independent redress scheme through Ombudsman Services.

The announcement comes before important legislative changes come into effect that will give both tenants and landlords the right to independent redress if their letting agent fails to resolve a complaint to their satisfaction. The requirement, part of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act, will mean that all letting agents must belong to a government approved property redress scheme once the change is enacted later this year.

UKALA is the latest lettings and property management association to appoint Ombudsman Services to provide independent dispute resolution for its members. Ombudsman Services has been providing an alternative resolution scheme for members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) since 2007 and for the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) since 2012.

Lewis Shand Smith, Chief Ombudsman says: “We are delighted that UKALA has recognised the value and quality of our model of independent redress and are proud to be providing the dispute resolution service for them. This is good news for tenants in the private rental sector who can be confident that we will be on hand to help should they encounter a problem with their letting or managing agent that has reached a stalemate. Our easy to use service provides free and impartial advice for complainants.”

Richard Price, UKALA Executive Director, says: “Access to an independent ombudsman service is essential for an open and accountable property sector.

 “UKALA takes very seriously the level and quality of service that it provides to its members we are very happy to be using Ombudsman Services to provide an independent service to support our existing complaints procedures”.

“Importantly, our partnership with Ombudsman Services (OS) means that UKALA members in England need not worry and will be well placed to comply with the new requirement when implemented later this year”.

Ombudsman Services is an alternative dispute resolution service set up for consumers to turn to when a complaint they have made directly with a member company has reached a deadlock stage, or has been on-going for eight weeks or more. Companies must belong to the Ombudsman Services dispute resolution scheme in order for them to investigate complaints. The role of Ombudsman Services is to investigate complaints fairly by taking into account both sides of the story and making a recommendation on what if any action should be taken to resolve the complaint.

Ombudsman Services also provides independent dispute resolution for the energy, communications and copyright licensing sectors as well as other property sectors, including surveying and estate agency.

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Notes to editors

About Ombudsman Services

  • Ombudsman Services is a not for profit, private company limited by guarantee
  • Ombudsman Services runs national, private sector ombudsman schemes which provide independent dispute resolution for the communications, energy, property, copyright licensing sectors, the Green Deal, Which? Trusted Traders, reallymoving.com and the ABFA
  • Ombudsman Services provides an expert dispute resolution service. The service focuses on encouraging early agreed resolution wherever possible and does not charge a fee so it’s able to offer access to redress for consumers to resolve their complaints without proceeding to the civil courts
  • In 2012 Ombudsman Services won the bid to provide the Ombudsman and investigation service for the government’s Green Deal initiative
  • Ombudsman Services is a full member of the Ombudsman Association (OA) and adheres to its principles
  • Further information about Ombudsman Services can be found at www.ombudsman-services.org

About UKALA

The UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA) is a trade association representing businesses which facilitate the rental of private residential property in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. All revenues generated are used by the association to support and benefit its members.

UKALA exists to support letting agents who are committed to improving conditions in the private rented sector. UKALA membership requires all applicants to be vetted against UKALA safeguards, and only if the following requirements are met can lettings agencies become members and be covered by UKALA’s CMP insurance.

1)     Written confirmation from their bank that they have a clearly segregated client money account.

2)     Written confirmation from their accountant(s) that their client money account is in order or commission of a Client Money HealthCheck from the Letting Partnership.

3)     Proof of a minimum level of Professional Indemnity Insurance.

Once accepted agent members are required to abide by the UKALA Scheme Rules and Code of Practice; to ensure the highest standards of professionalism and an assurance of quality in residential lettings for both landlords and tenants. 

UKALA is dedicated to continuously improving conditions in the private rented sector, by ensuring that landlords and tenants are treated fairly and that best practice is understood and adhered to in residential lettings. Visit their website to find out more: www.ukala.org.uk