A redress scheme is an alternative to court action for consumers to escalate any complaints they have against members of the scheme. The Property Redress Scheme was authorised by the UK government to find solutions to problems experienced by consumers and its members include lettings agencies, property management agencies, estate agencies and any other property-related organisations and professionals that are committed to providing excellence in customer service. It is a legal requirement for all property agencies to be registered with a redress scheme for consumers that is authorised by the government.
Who can access the services of the Property Redress Scheme?
Anybody who uses the services of a property agent can access support from the Property Redress Scheme, this includes landlords and tenants, property buyers and sellers using estate agency services and consumers using property management agencies, such as the head leaseholder, freeholder or residents’ management company.
How does it work?
In order for a consumer to register an issue with the Property Redress Scheme, they will first need to check the agency or professional concerned is registered with the scheme. It is imperative to show evidence that a letter of complaint has been sent to the member agency within 12 months of the incident concerned. The consumer must allow a minimum of eight weeks for the property agency to investigate and respond to any complaint before referring the matter to the Property Redress Scheme. Once the eight weeks has elapsed and if there is no acceptable response, the consumer can refer the matter to the Property Redress Scheme. Complaints can be referred any time within 12 months of the date of the original letter of complaint.
There are no charges for raising complaints with the Property Redress Scheme, however, consumers will need to complete the relevant complaint form. Complaints can only be submitted if they relate to:
• a legal breach of the member’s obligations
• where consumer’s legal rights have been breached by the member
• where members do not act in accordance with the applicable Code of Practice
• where transactions are not enacted efficiently
• unfair treatment of the consumer, which could include rudeness, lack of explanations, poor service or avoidable delays.
All complaints are dealt with by an assessor and whenever possible the process is forecast to take up to 55 days, although this is dependent on individual circumstances.
Where a resolution is agreed between the parties this becomes the final decision and the member will be bound to act according to this. Where awards and financial redress are deemed necessary, they will be finalised by the Ombudsman.
You can find out more about the Property Redress Scheme on their website here.