The Property Redress Scheme, one of three approved redress operations, says it saw a 33 per cent increase in membership in 2016 and a 40 per cent surge in complaints.
At the end of 2016, a total of 5,259 agent offices - very largely lettings - had joined PRS along with 227 property professionals such as inventory clerks.
Total membership of the scheme currently stands at more than 7,000 members, with almost 700 UK Association of Letting Agents members now having access to PRS membership following the announcement of a formal partnership in October 2016.
In an annual report just released, Head of Redress Sean Hooker acknowledges that while the 40 per cent spike in complaints can partly be attributed to overall growth of the scheme, he believes it also indicates an upward trend in consumer awareness of the complaint process.
The most common causes for complaints were property management (29 per cent), followed by deposits (27 per cent) and problems with rent (15 per cent). Service and fees both resulted in six per cent of complaints.
Tenants made up the majority of complainants at 51 per cent, followed by landlords at 35 per cent, leaseholders at eight per cent, buyers at three per cent and sellers at just one per cent. The PRS awarded a total of £152,819 in compensation with the average amount awarded being £375.27.
“Although formal complaints have risen, so too has the number of complaints resolved at the early stages of our process. Around 40 per cent of our cases are resolved at recommendation stage and 99 per cent are dealt with in less than 90 days from receiving the initial complaint through to a decision. We continuously look at improvement and initiatives to increase the effectiveness and delivery of our service. We hope that the most recent introduction of our online complaint system will further reduce the average time to complaint resolution” says Hooker.