Better Support Promised for Homeowners over HIPs
Property Ombudsman to handle more enquiries and disputes
Two bodies covering the residential property sector in respect of consumer redress and industry Codes of Practice have commenced alignment of their consumer enquiry and dispute resolution functions.
The Property Codes Compliance Board (PCCB) has begun the transition to direct consumer enquiries to The Property Ombudsman (TPO) and later, in mid-September, will also be moving its consumer redress function to create a simplified redress system for consumers across the whole sector.
The Property Ombudsman, Christopher Hamer, has been resolving disputes with regard to estate agents’ actions involving HIPs since packs were introduced in 2007 but his scheme has now been extended to directly include the many HIP and search providers registered with the PCCB.
The move follows the publication of a Memorandum of Understanding earlier this year between the two bodies setting out plans for closer collaborative working.
The changes to enquiry and redress handling by the PCCB is the first concrete example of what that this will mean in practice. Consumers who have problems with estate agents, Home Information Packs (HIPs) or the personal searches within them will now have one point of contact for information, advice and dispute resolution.
The majority of people with disputes concerning the content of the HIP can ask the Ombudsman to intervene if they fail to resolve the dispute through the HIP provider or search provider’s own internal procedures.
“It is clearly a positive step that any consumer who feels disadvantaged because of something related to the estate agent, HIP, or personal search for a particular property now has one port of call for how the matter can be independently resolved,” said Mr. Hamer.
“My office has a lot of experience already in relation to HIPS either through dealing with formal cases or from consumer enquiries. We can now apply that experience to even greater effect.”
Richard Footitt, PCCB chairman, said the Board had been in discussions with The Property Ombudsman for some time and the new alignment offered a positive service for firms registered with the PCCB and their clients.
“The Property Ombudsman has extensive and unrivalled experience of handling consumer queries and complaints and providing effective redress where problems arise,” he added.
“The Board’s role is to try to stop problems arising in the first place by ensuring that all PCCB-registered HIP and Search providers comply with the respective Codes of Practice. It makes sense to align our schemes to provide a single point of contact for consumers and independent redress for their complaints when things go wrong.
“Our earlier work covering codes of practice with The Property Ombudsman had already enhanced the consistency of standards for those responsible for delivering HIPs.
“Having our redress scheme implemented by The Property Ombudsman will also bring welcome clarity for consumers and a consistency of approach to dispute resolution across the residential property sector.”
Notes for Editors
Earlier this year, The Property Ombudsman and the Property Codes Compliance Board (PCCB) announced a Memorandum of Understanding to align the organisations’ Codes of Practice to clarify the roles and responsibilities of estate agents and HIP and search organisations with the aim of introducing a single point of contact for enquiries and dispute resolution.
The Property Ombudsman Service (http://www.tpos.co.uk/), formerly known as the Ombudsman for Estate Agents (OEA), offers a free, independent, and impartial service to members of the public who are dissatisfied with the service provided by an estate agent who is a member of the scheme during the buying, selling, or letting of a residential property.