Renters' Reform Bill: Your guide to the new Private Renters' Ombudsman

17 May 2023

A new Private Renters' Ombudsman in England aims to offer "fair, impartial, and binding resolutions" to tenants and landlords.

The Renters (Reform) Bill outlines the government's plans to introduce a new ombudsman that all landlords must join - regardless of whether they use a letting agent.

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What is an ombudsman?

Ombudsmen or redress schemes are set up to help protect consumer rights. They aim to provide "fair, impartial, and binding resolutions" without needing to advance the problem to court.

Using an ombudsman should therefore be faster, cheaper and easier than going through the court system.

Why is the new ombudsman being introduced?

Currently, there is a redress scheme for agents to help settle disputes with tenants, but no similar scheme for landlords. This means that if a tenant has a complaint, their agent may be reliant on remedying that complaint on behalf of a landlord that does not want to engage.

It will be mandatory for all private landlords to join the scheme, whether they use an agent or not. This will give tenants access to redress services in any situation, while landlords will be accountable for their own conduct and responsibilities rather than the agent.


What ombudsman has been appointed?

The government has not yet decided which organisation will be in charge of the redress scheme. It has stated its intentions to only approve one scheme, and for it to act as an ombudsman.

By using only one scheme, landlords and tenants will be able to access the same service. Letting agents will not be required to join this ombudsman scheme, as there are already two redress schemes in place.

How will this redress scheme work?

The ombudsman will be a streamlined service for both landlords and tenants to use. It will be able to resolve individual disputes between landlords and tenants without involving the courts.

According to the Private Rented Sector Ombudsman guidance, the government aims for the redress scheme to also "tackle the root cause of problems, address systemic issues, provide feedback and education to members and consumers, and offer support for vulnerable consumers."

Will letting agents need to join this new ombudsman?

Letting agents will not be required to join this ombudsman, as many are required to be members of existing redress schemes. Asking agents to join the scheme would also “risk disruption” to the government’s deadlines.

How will the ombudsman help tenants?

Tenants will be able to seek redress for free if they have a complaint about their tenancy. Legitimate complaints could be around their landlord's behaviour, property standards, or repairs that haven't been completed within a "reasonable" timeframe, for example.

The ombudsman will be given powers to "put things right" for the tenant, such as "compelling landlords to issue an apology, provide information, take remedial action, and/or pay compensation of up to £25,000."

Landlords also may be required to reimburse rents, if the property doesn't meet the right standard.

What powers will the ombudsman have?

The redress scheme will be given powers to "put things right" for the tenant. This includes compelling landlords to:

  • Issue an apology
  • Provide information
  • Take remedial action
  • Pay compensation of up to £25,000 

Landlords also may be required to reimburse rents, if the property doesn't meet the right standard.

What penalties could landlords face if they don't comply with the ombudsman's decision?

If landlords don't comply with the ombudsman's decision - especially for repeat or serious offenders - they may be liable for a Banning Order.

The ombudsman's decision may also be enforced through the courts, if the landlords' compliance becomes "a concern".

Can landlords complain about a tenant to the ombudsman?

Landlords will not be able to make a complaint about their tenants.  However, the government says it is “exploring the possibility [...] to offer mediation services to landlords” to help settle disputes.

The government states that landlords will also benefit from the scheme by benefiting from training, guidance, and support. 

When will the ombudsman be introduced?

The government commits to introducing the ombudsman “as soon as possible after Royal Assent.”

It usually takes about a year for a Bill to go through parliament and to become law. However, Housing Secretary Michael Gove told the BBC in May 2023 that he is committed to seeing the Bill go through parliament "as quickly as possible." 

Please note this is intended as a guide only and is not exhaustive. Read more about the proposals at

Further reading