What can the property ombudsman do?
If for any reason residents are not satisfied with any aspect of how teir block is managed and feel they have not had an adequate response by their agent they are at will to make a complaint to the industry ombudsmen. The main body for this would be the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) whom have strict codes of conduct and any complaint is seen through and dealt with properly with full recompense where necessary.
Do you have an issue with your Managing Agent ? Have been treated appallingly and found that complaining to them has been futile ?Perhaps this is where a Property Ombudsman can help. Let's take a look and see how they operate and how they can help :
We are all aware things can and do go wrong in block management and is sometimes because the managing agent screws up. This is all very well bu you may you find yourself out of pocket or seriously inconvenienced because of a poor management? Well, if they don't respond to you, you could potentially take your case to the court. If you you don't have thousands of pounds at your disposal and free time to spare you could seek help from the Ombudsman.
Who are the Ombudsmen?
Ombudsmen are a free, impartial and independent organisation that helps you and me resolve disputes. There is also a Financial Ombudsmen Service (FOS), Ombudsmen Services for energy and communications providers and The Property Ombudsmen (TPOS). The services they cover are for ‘redress' which means they exist to put things right.
There are now only two redress schemes for the property industry - The Property Ombudsman (TPOs) and The Property Redress Scheme depending on hich one you take your complaint to will.
What does The Property Ombudsman (TPOS) do?
The Property Ombudsman Service (TPOS) is the largest scheme in the UK and was established in 1990. They will offer advice and guidance and will go for early resolutions wherever and whenever possible.
You need to provide as much evidence and supporting documentation as possible so that they may consider it against the company you are complaining about. If TPOS think you may well indeed have a case, they will contact the company you’re complaining about with a decision.
The alleged "offending" company will then have 14 days to accept the decision or they can appeal against it. They can only appeal if they can prove there is an error in the Ombudsman’s findings or if ther is new evidence that emerges after the initial findings that have already been looked scrutinised. The TPOS will then inform you in writing with their decision and give you 28 days in which to respond.
The Property Redress Scheme
The Property Redress Scheme (PRS) was launched in 2014.
When complaining to the PRS, you are allocated someone to assess the validity of the allegation. The company you lodge a complaint about then has 10 days to either refute the claim or sort it out. Similarly with TPOS, any judgement made by the PRS can only be changed if an error has been made in the initial complaint or evidence provided afterwards.
When you get a resonse back from the company youhave a grievence with, you then have 15 working days to confirm whether you agree with the decision and, if you do, the company in question will then have 10 working days to comply with it. If you disagree with the decision, it will be up to the PRS to decide whether there should be further action.
How do I know who to complain to?
This will depend on which redress scheme the company you’re complaining about is a member of. If it isn’t displayed on their website, you are fully entitled to ask them to provide this information. If the company is not a member of any schemes, you can complain to Trading Standards.
What can I complain about?
TPOS often states the most common complaints relate to communication, alleged fraud and false marketing. Other complaints logged may be :
Poor or incompetent service
Failure to follow the guidelines set for agents under the Code of Practice and membership obligations
Unfair treatment or even bullying
What powers do the Property Ombudsman have?
If TPOS support your claim, they can make a financial award to you of up to £25,000, although this is rare The Ombudsman states that, on average, claims are usually closer to the £500 mark.
To even operate as a property business, companies must be a member of one of these authorised redress scheme bodies. Without membership, they cannot continue to do business. If they do not comply with TPOS, they can lose their membership to the scheme.
There is also an agreement between the different redress schemes that if an agent has not honoured the decision of one of the schemes, they cannot join another until that obligation has been met.
When can I complain to a Property Ombudsman?
Both TPOS and PRS ask you to initially write directly to the company using their internal complaints procedure. Onnce and only after you have exhausted all other avenues will they assist you. You must give then give the company eight weeks to respond to your complaint before contacting either Ombudsman.
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