We can consider complaints from these groups of people:
a person who has a lease, tenancy, licence to occupy, service agreement or other arrangement to occupy premises owned or managed by a landlord who is a member of the Housing Ombudsman Scheme (paragraph 19(a))
an ex-occupier, if they had a legal relationship with the member at the time that the matter complained of arose (paragraph 19(a))
an applicant for a property owned or managed by a member
This means that as well as considering complaints from tenants, we can also consider complaints from leaseholders and shared owners. The only category of home owners who are not eligible to bring a complaint to the Ombudsman are those who own the freehold of their home.
There will be some complaints that are better resolved elsewhere and therefore we will not be able to consider them. For example, complaints concerning the ‘Right to Buy’ a council property are dealt with by either the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman or by the courts under specific legislation. This is because the Right to Buy concerns the disposal of land owned by local government, rather than the landlord/tenant relationship between the two parties to the sale.
We are however able to consider complaints concerning the voluntary Right to Buy schemes operated by housing associations.
Options for residents
The Housing Ombudsman Service does not offer any form of accommodation or home ownership scheme.
There are a wide range of schemes on offer to facilitate residents owning part or all of their home such as Right to Buy, Right to Acquire, leasehold purchase, shared-ownership staircasing provisions, equity loans and mortgage rescue schemes. Not all schemes are available for every resident, or in relation to every property, and there are often very specific requirements which must be met before you can progress an application for home ownership.
If you are interested in exploring the options available for owning your home it is advisable that you:
- Consult your tenancy agreement to check whether you might be eligible for any home ownership schemes.
- If you are unsure about the options available, you can contact your landlord in the first instance and ask it to send you any relevant information and guidance.
- Housing associations and local councils may also be able to provide you with information regarding available schemes in your locality.
- You can also seek further advice from:
- Government guidance – this page provides useful information on what to consider when thinking about buying your home
- Government council housing and housing association guidance – this page provides specific information on the Right to Acquire, the Right to Buy as well as a search tool to direct you to the appropriate council or association in your area
- Leasehold Advisory Service – the service may be able to provide you with free initial advice and guidance. See the website or call 0207 383 9800.
Finally, before you proceed with any home ownership scheme, you should get your own legal advice and carefully consider the documentation to ensure that you are fully aware of your rights and obligations as a home owner and those of the landlord. Often, you will have greater responsibility for repairing and maintaining the property, and there may be additional unforeseen charges.