In bad news for the lettings sector, The Property Ombudsman (TPO) has issued its annual report for 2017, which has highlighted an 11% increase in formal complaints.
Following a 3% rise in complaints to 3,658 from 2016, TPO made financial awards to consumers in 2,408 instances which totalled £1.36m, an increase of 11% on the previous year, mostly due to a rise on the lettings side of the property industry. Of those complaints some 67% were supported by the Ombudsman.
Some 49% of complaints were made by landlords, while 45%were made by tenants. The top causes of complaints were about management issues; communication and record keeping; tenancy agreements, inventories and deposits; and then in-house complaint procedures.
Continuing the trend from 2016, the regions with the highest volume of complaints were Greater London 23%, the South East 20% and North West 11%.
Commenting on the statistical and complaints figures, TPO spokesperson Katrine Sporle said:
“With 38,272 offices and departments now following our Codes of Practice, approved by Chartered Trading Standards Institute, I think it is encouraging that complaints have risen by just three per cent and that 10 per cent fewer agents had to be referred to our Disciplinary and Standards Committee
We agree with Government that there are gaps in the current provisions of consumer redress within the property sector which need addressing and, together with industry and consumer partners, we are keen to play our part in regulation and redress reform”.
The way forward for Letting Agents
In an opinion piece published on the letting blog last week, UKALA executive director Richard Price outlined a way forward for letting agents, asking them to understand their role in the PRS and fulfil it in a way that keeps their clients and consumers happy.
With the upcoming tenant fees bill coming into force next year, many letting agents are uncertain about the range, quality and reliability of services they will be able to provide to tenants.
Addressing these concerns and stating the importance of good practice, Richard Price said: “You will need to prove your worth to your clients, landlords, by making sure their expectations are met… But this should not be at the expense of the consumer, the tenant; if they don’t like the way you operate, or perceive a poor service, then they will take their business elsewhere and be more than willing to share their experiences. If you can’t fill properties then you may well lose the landlord too.
Read the full property ombudsman report here