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The Property Ombudsman tells estate agents: 'raise your standards'

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.

On the estate agents and sales side of TPO’s operation, the key statistics are:

- 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’.

On the lettings side:

- 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;

- The 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)’.

Meanwhile TPO reports that its 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.”

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