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'Raise your standards' The Property Ombudsman tells letting agents

The Property Ombudsman scheme’s annual report, just released, reveals that there has been a dramatic 32 per cent surge in the number of formal complaints.


A total of 16,265 enquiries from consumers seeking advice were received; but there were 3,304 formal complaints resolved - 32 per cent up on the previous year.



Agents were instructed by TPO to pay compensation awards of £811,134, with the single biggest payment being almost £17,000 for a lettings dispute.


TPO reports that its sales and lettings agency membership has grown 82 per cent in the last five years: 35,374 offices are now signed up. 


The Property Ombudsman, Katrine Sporle, says of the higher number of resolved cases: “This is good news for consumers and redress, but not so great for the reputation of agents who collectively paid out over £800,000 in awards. My message for those agents is simple; pay more attention to TPO’s Codes of Practice and raise your standards.”



On the lettings side, the key statistics are:


- 1,965 formal complaints were resolved (33 per cent more than the year before);


- 83 per cent of complaints were supported by the Ombudsman;


- 50 per cent of complaints were made by landlords, while 47% were made by tenants;


- the highest award issued last year was £16,954 for a lettings dispute;


- he average lettings award was £522;


- the regions with the highest volume of complaints were the South East (24 per cent) and Greater London (24 per cent), followed by South West (9 per cent);


- the top three causes of complaints were: ‘Management (including repairs and maintenance)’, ‘Communication and record keeping’ and ‘End of tenancy issues (e.g. deposits, disputes and damages)’.

On the estate agents and sales side:

- 1,220 formal complaints were resolved (27 per cent up on the year before);

- 73 per cent of complaints were supported by the Ombudsman;

- 60 per cent of complaints were made by sellers, 35 per cent by buyers;

- the average sales award was £374;

- regions with the highest volume of complaints were the South East (26 per cent) followed by South West (13 per cent) then Greater London (11 per cent);

- the top three causes of complaints were: ‘Communication and record keeping’, followed by ‘Marketing and advertising’ and ‘Instructions/terms of business/commission/termination’.

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    TPO is dead right! Standards in letting agents is much worse than you think.


    I agree. There is no training given to many in this sector as the work force is sometimes very young and has little or no experience on how property actually works. Things go wrong and some have no idea what to do or how to deal with it.

  • Kristjan Byfield

    Actually disagree- the lettings industry is better than it has ever been and is having to abide by a burgeoning volume of legislation. Whilst we are an unlicensed industry, we are the most regulated letting market on the planet. What is always ommitted in these stats is that this doesnt necessarily reflect a downturn in standards- quite the opposite in fact. It represents a large uptake in membership (in lettings this was largely driven by a regulatiin mandate) but also this reflects the fact that people are becoming more aware of their rights and the support offered by organisations like TPOS. This is bacause agents are educating their clients and Tenants better and promoting organisations like TPOS. It would be really refreshing if people stopped bashing the lettings industry, just for a minute, and actually looked at how much it has improved in the last 10-15 years. As someone who has both worked in the indsutry and been a Tenant during this time as well what we have now is unrecognisable to just 8 years ago- and in a good way.

  • Kristjan Byfield

    Also- if organisations and goverment really want to see change in the sector they should actively and publicly praise good operators. Agent bashing is all well and good but actually does nothing to help the consumer not does it rid the country of rogue operators. The only thing that ultimately does that is money- praise/publicise good intiatives/operators, which will drive business to them and away from the bad eggs. Pretty soon they will have to sort out their act or shut their doors. But of course that wont happen- in today's world, in any industry, we love to shout eople down and belittle what they do rather than praise the good ones.

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    We should create a system to blacklist bad letting agents.


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