There are now nearly 27,000 estate and letting agent branches signed up to The Property Ombudsman, with complaints up 42%.
TPO said that the huge rise in complaints was a reflection of “the general trend in the consumer world to challenge when something does not give satisfaction”, together with a rise in its membership.
Reporting for last year, TPO said there had been a 43% rise in sales-related inquiries and a 40% rise in lettings cases.
In terms of membership, there was a 19% rise in the number of lettings agents branches to a record 12,915 and a 14% increase in sales agents’ offices. Altogether, membership grew 28% over the course of last year to reach 26,735.
Ombudsman Christopher Hamer this morning again called for regulation of letting agents.
He said: “Last year saw continued and significant growth in the Private Rented Sector.
“With an estimated 1.6m private landlords, many of whom have limited experience and understanding of their responsibilities, and large numbers of consumers seeking tenancies, the role of letting and managing agents in providing quality customer service based on a comprehensive knowledge of relevant legislation, is more important now than ever before.
“In that context I again call for a properly structured regulatory regime for the lettings sector. Over the past year we have seen numerous pieces of legislation being passed which deal with aspects of the Private Rented Sector.
“Whilst any controls must be welcomed, I feel an opportunity has been missed to bring all such legal obligations into a coherent and sensible single law to avoid the potential for inconsistency and misunderstanding of what is required.”
Statistical highlights in today’s report include:
- 19% increase in registered membership letting offices
- 40% rise in lettings cases received
- 33% increase in cases resolved via mediation
- 10% increase in cases resolved via formal review
- 11% of lettings issues reported to TPO related to repair and maintenance
- 54% of complainants were landlords versus 44% tenants
- The average lettings award has risen 27% from £411.97 to £524.10
- 23% of complainants were from the South East, followed by Greater London (21%) the South West (9%) on par with North West (9%).
- 14% increase in registered membership sales offices
- 43% rise in sales cases received
- 21% increase in cases resolved via mediation
- 13% increase in cases resolved via formal review
- 20% of sales issues reported to TPO related to communication failure
- 59% of complainants were sellers versus 39% buyers
- 23% of complainants were from the South East, followed by Greater London (13%) & South West and Eastern Region both (11%)
The report also provides a series of case studies to share industry best practice, highlighting some of the most common complaints and how they were dealt with, such as disputes over sales particulars (accounting for 13% of all sales related issues) and management failure (accounting for 4% of all lettings related issues).
The case studies cover topics including Sale by Tender, hidden fees and renewal fees.
The report is at www.tpos.co.uk/annual_reports.htm