Monday, April 11, 2005

An Ombudsman For Property

07 Apr 2005 News Item

A review of regulation in the property sector has called for the appointment of an Ombudsman to deal with consumer problems...
The review, carried out by former Office of Fair Trade (OFT) director general Sir Bryan Carsberg, was commissioned by The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) commissioned following recent government sponsored investigations of several other UK professions: medical, legal and actuarial.
Among its main recommendations is that consumers should be provided with a single route of redress. Carsberg examined a RICS pilot scheme, the Surveyors' Ombudsman Scheme (SOS), currently in operation in Scotland, and recommends that this be extended to the whole of the UK as soon as possible, "subject to a review of funding requirements and the creation of a properly costed business plan".
This scheme, said Carsberg, deals with consumer redress issues in "an investigative, non-adversarial manner", and so far has been greeted almost entirely with enthusiasm north of the border.
Carsberg also believes that the scope of the Ombudsman should be extended to cover small businesses that often lack resources and expertise, and therefore may need protecting in the same way that individuals do.
Another key recommendation for the Institution is that chartered surveyors should continue to be governed by RICS but with a clearer division between regulatory and representative functions.
Steven Gould, Head of RICS regulation said: "When something goes wrong in the house buying or letting process the options open to consumers are currently fragmented and confusing.
"Carsberg's approach offers a clear route to follow for people who have problems with what is likely to be the biggest purchases of their lives."

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