As a result, and in line with Government policy, the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA) has now made it a requirement that its members must belong to a fully-recognised ombudsman scheme. While ARMA members can join the Housing Ombudsman or the Property Ombudsman, the recommended scheme for its members is the Surveyors Ombudsman Service (SOS).
"It was a logical step for us to go for SOS as nearly 50% of our members are Chartered Surveyors and SOS was set up by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors for its members," said Brett Williams, ARMA’s chairman.
"Furthermore SOS is already handling cases relating to residential leasehold issues."
In future, leaseholders in properties managed by ARMA members will, after they have gone through the member’s own in-house complaints procedure, be able, at no cost, to take their complaint straight to the ombudsman. If the complaint is found to fall within the ombudsman’s jurisdiction, an entirely independent review of, and decision on, the case will be made. The decision, if accepted by the complainant, is then binding on the member.
"It will now be the independent ombudsman who will investigate the conduct of our members," said Williams, "and will report to us if a member is found to be seriously wanting. We see this step as bringing us to the level of redress that we want to be able to offer to our members’ clients and customers."
Lewis Shand Smith, Chief Ombudsman of SOS, said: "We are delighted that ARMA has decided that its members should join the Surveyors Ombudsman Service. As a professional ombudsman scheme we are happy to welcome any firm which provides services to the property sector. Our members include Surveyors, Estate Agents, Managing Agents and Letting Agents. In such a difficult economic climate it is essential that we work together with the property industry to give confidence to consumers that if things go wrong, effective independent redress is available."
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