Perhaps unsurprisingly, landlords formed the bulk of the complainants about letting agents in the 2020 calendar year according to The Property Ombudsman.
TPO’s latest annual report - out this week but only applying to 2020 - shows that lettings agents were the subject of greater disputes and resolutions.
Out of 34,000-plus enquiries, some 5,122 were escalated to the status of complaints by TPO. Out of those, 2,737 complaints related to lettings, 1,656 relating to sales, 1,194 for residential leasehold management and 120 for other property professionals.
The biggest awards were £20,838 (lettings), £24,139 (sales) and £10,642 (RLM), and the average awards were £612, £653 and £339 respectively.
Of the lettings complaints, 55 per cent were received from landlords and 43 per cent from tenants.
The top causes of complaints were management, communication and record keeping, instructions and terms of business, and complaints handling.
Rebecca Marsh, The Property Ombudsman, comments: “Our customer services team responded to another record volume of consumer enquiries with an ever-increasing number of people opting to contact us via TPO’s complaints portal, launched in February 2020. The pandemic is not over yet, so it will be interesting to see if this trend continues or adjusts as we slowly get back to normal.
“TPO helped over 34,000 enquiries that did not need to go on to become accepted cases by signposting them to organisations that could help, or giving advice and guidance to promote a local resolution between them and the agent. Providing a front-end enquiry service is one of the unique functions of an ombudsman. Its importance in helping consumers in such a complicated sector, whether or not their issues fall within TPO’s remit, should not be understated, as often straightforward guidance and advice can help stop disputes from arising in the first instance.
“Enquiry levels in 2021 are already showing further year-on-year increases and we are expecting this to continue as the impact of the pandemic on peoples’ relationships with their homes continues to play out.”
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