The Property Ombudsman says there have been more complaints lodged about agents so far in 2020 than in 2019.
This is despite the market being closed for some time because of the spring Coronavirus lockdown.
In a recent virtual meeting of TPO’s Consumer and Industry Forums, new Ombudsman Rebecca Marsh acknowledged that the vast majority of agents were performing strongly despite the pandemic.
However, she went on to say: “In spite of the pandemic, the number of complaints TPO has received so far this year is greater than last year, reflecting the consumer interest in getting their complaints resolved. However, when set against the number of transactions within the sector, the number of complaints is very small indeed.”
Marsh added that she wants to build on TPO’s previous ‘raising standards’ agents, but in a new way.
“I plan to widen this and look at how trust and confidence can be improved within the sector. This is something for all agents to consider and an invitation for me, as an Ombudsman, to get to know those who rarely see a complaint escalated to us” she said.
And she added: “Consumers need a vibrant property sector as much as agents want one. As an Ombudsman, it is not just about redress and resolving complaints, it is also about helping the industry improve and improving experiences for consumers. It is important that redress is speedy and that will build confidence.”
Meanwhile TPO’s office continues to work on revised its code for agents, which is likely to be concluded by the end of the first quarter of 2021.
Thereafter, the intention is to hand the code to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government ready for the new regulator - a key part of the recommendations of the Regulation of Property Agents working party - who is likely to come into post in the future.