Recent data has unveiled that a significant proportion of landlords in England are either unsupportive of or uncertain about the Government’s initiative to make membership of an ombudsman mandatory. This revelation comes as the Renters (Reform) Bill is being discussed in parliament. The principal aim of this bill is to establish a mechanism where disputes between private tenants and landlords can be addressed swiftly, fairly, economically, and without the need for court proceedings.
In a study by mortgage broker Landbay, a survey of 1,100 landlords demonstrated that nearly half of them sought more clarity about the ombudsman, uncertain of its merits. On the other hand, 10% of landlords were in clear opposition to it, while 42% felt the initiative was commendable.
Supporters of the ombudsman emphasised its potential to offer unbiased and prompt resolutions to conflicts, eliminating the drawn-out process associated with court trials. Conversely, the naysayers expressed concerns, fearing the service might consistently favour tenants and criticising it as just another means to generate revenue. Some speculated that if the government were to oversee it, it might merely add to existing bureaucratic processes.
However, current indications suggest that the proposed ombudsman might follow the path of existing schemes that assist letting agents and clients in dispute resolution. These schemes are typically managed by third-party organisations separate from the central government.
Paul Brett, MD of intermediaries at Landbay, reflected on the findings, commenting: “Our survey found uncertainty around the idea of a Private Rented Sector ombudsman.
“On the positive side, it would be good if disputes could be quickly resolved without having to go to court, but there is some scepticism as to how quick this would be. It appears that more information is needed before such as scheme is created.”