The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme has released its latest annual report revealing an increase in the number of consumers contacting the scheme for help.
The TPOs 2017 annual report shows that the number of complaints received rose by 3% to 3,658 last year, with just over £1.3m worth of compensation paid by sales and letting agents.
The average lettings compensation award was £625.
Interestingly, almost half - 49% - of complaints were made by landlords, while 45% were made by tenants.
For the second year running, Greater London saw the highest volume of complaints at 23%, followed by the South East (20%) and North West (11%).
The main cause of complaint related to property management, followed in order by communication and record keeping, tenancy agreements, inventories and deposits, as well as in-house complaints procedure.
Katrine Sporle (pictured), Property Ombudsman, said: “Our primary focus has always been on providing expert advice and quality outcomes. Our early advice plays a key role in empowering consumers by equipping them with information so they can try and resolve the issue directly with their agent.
“Our Early Resolution approach seeks to resolve straightforward disputes quickly and our Adjudication Service is wholly focused on fair and reasonable outcomes. TPO takes a continuous improvement approach to the services we provide, enabling us to meet the needs of consumers more efficiently, and to raise standards in the industry through information, education and advice on systemic issues arising in what is a dynamic industry.
“With 38,272 offices and departments now following our Codes of Practice, approved by Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), I think it is encouraging that complaints have risen by just 3% and that 10% 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.
“Overall, 2017 represented a positive year of innovation and improvement, which will reassure consumers and the industry that there is an alternative to costly and lengthy court proceedings that can be relied on to provide timely, fair and reasonable remedies.”