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’.