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Big rise in complaints and compensation says The Property Ombudsman

The Property Ombudsman’s annual report reveals a significant increase in the number of formal complaints resolved by the scheme and a record total of well over £1m compensation paid by agents.

In summary the report reveals that TPO received 14,218 enquires from consumers seeking advice; of these, it resolved 3,553 formal complaints - a 7.5 per cent increase from the previous year.

TPO also instructed agents to pay compensation awards worth £1.2m - a whopping 51 per cent increase on the previous year.

However, TPO emphasises these complaint levels represent a very small proportion of dealings between agents and customers.

On the sales side:

- there were 1,310 formal complaints resolved;

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

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

- the average sales compensation award was £397, with the single largest award across the industry being £21,972.

The top four causes of complaints were ‘Communication and record keeping’,  ‘Marketing and advertising’, ‘Instructions/terms of business/commission/termination’, and ‘In-house complaints handling’. 

The regions with the highest volume of complaints were the South East (25 per cent) followed by the South West (13 per cent) and then Greater London (12 per cent).

TPO also saw a 6.1 per cent and 7.0 per cent increase in the number of sales and letting agents joining the scheme 

“There are now 38,017 offices and departments following our unique Codes of Practice, demonstrating agents’ commitment to raising standards and providing a better service to their customers. It is evident that the vast majority of consumers are happy with their agent” says Sporle.

“To help paint an overall picture, the 1,310 sales complaints resolved by TPO in 2016 equates to 0.1 per cent of all sales transactions completed during the year”

On the lettings side, there were:

- 1,997 formal complaints were resolved (1.6 per cent more than the year before); 

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

- 51 per cent were made by tenants, while 45 per cent of complaints were made by landlords;

- The highest award issued last year was £21,972; 

- The average lettings award was £531.

The regions with the highest volume of complaints were Greater London (25 per cent), the South East (23 per cent), followed by North West (10%) 

The top four causes of complaints were ‘Management’, ‘Communication & record keeping’, ‘In-house complaints procedure’ and ‘Referencing’.

You can see the full report on the TPO website here.

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