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Are letting agents doing a good enough job for landlords?

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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  • Franklin I

    Some Letting agents are good, and some are just corrupt!

    The question to the title of this heading is;

    Are letting agents doing a good enough job for landlords?

    My answer to this question is NO!

    If agents were doing a good job for Landlord's, they would've taken responsibility for the Landlord's Tenant's Fee ban in which they the agent implemented to the Tenant's and not the Landlord's in the Tenant's Fee Act 2019.

    In addition to the above comments, LL's are sometimes charged an additional fee from agent's just to renew a Tenancy Agreement.

    They claim after 1 year of the Tenancy Agreement, that they've done their work. If I pay you £1,500 in fees for securing a tenant on a 12 months contract from September 2020 to September 2021, an agent should not expect a LL to pay another £1,500 just because the LL wishes to renew.

    If the tenant were to move out after 2 months of the renewal, the agent will not give a partial refund for the time served!


    Some free advice.
    Only fools pay ongoing fees to Agents for an introduction only service.
    If you want a new updated Tenancy Agreement arranged and prepared you will have to pay for it. A solicitor would charge you far more than a Letting Agent....and not negotiate a possible rent review with the Tenant, or arrange for for the Tenant to sign. They would leave that for you to organise. Couple that with the audit trail of updated compliance that most new TA's now create (very important in todays PRS), and I would say a good Letting Agent is worth their weight in gold.
    A far as a break clause is concerned, the finding agent is carrying out the same pre- Tenancy work, be that for 6 months or 12, so why should they pay back/credit fees? Perhaps don't have a break clause for the first 12 months and that situation would not arise. Let's be honest, the Landlord break clause is worthless/unenforceable anyway. You would also attract longer term Tenants and therefore pay agents less. A win win for you.
    As far as the Tenant Fees Ban Act is concerned, Landlord's fees were becoming more and more subsidised by the Tenants and you expect this to be passed to an Agent and not the Landlord? You want that for free as well? Seriously? It's corner cutting Landlord's expecting something for nothing that lesson standards and bring on the increasing bureaucracy we all bemoan.
    You get what you pay for in life.....Suffice it to say,....my answer is YES, YES & YES again!

  • icon

    Probably wrong heading if I understand I thought Energy Companies would be up there. I didn’t know they would or could charge full money for extension or renewals there was so case law about that. I suppose you could just let it run periodic. There are some letting Agents who don’t charge renewal fees to be fair to them. The bulk of letting Agents were good until they banded together as an Association becoming to big for their boots and calling for law to adversely affect LL. They last one I used the first months wasn’t enough for his fees because of reference checks & don’t forget VAT is a big one so I had to give £500. out of my pocket as well, don’t ask me about Deposit I didn’t get any although the Tenant paid equivalent to
    5 weeks rent as Deposit which went into some kind Scheme many Agents are using, to me its the same as no Deposit for LL. The Property Ombudsman used to be good at helped me when lender gave me £8k penalty for paying off a loan a week too early but now too difficult to use everything Digital in Warrington and of course phones now obsolete just there to waste customers time like all Organisations playing you their stupid recordings to avoid doing their duty or providing a Service.

  • icon

    I can only speak as I find, I use a good small local agent , their fees are reasonable and they do not charge for renewing agreements, we get along fine.

  • George Dawes

    After bad experiences with my one bed flats I’ve taken them off the market permanently, not worth the brain damage fir very little reward . Not really my agents fault the tenants turned out to be scum. They had all the pretence of a good well known family , I suppose money can’t buy you class .


    I had a similar tenant yrs ago, Dad was a well respected CEO of a large Reno dealership in Norwich, what an embarrassment his son was to him, often children from wealthy families are no more than spoil brats .

  • Matthew Payne

    Landlord needs and experiences and lettings agent capabilty and fee levels will all be on a spectrum from A to Z just as in an industry. Good, average and bad apples in every barrel. These numbers demonstrate very little other than TPOS is there to as a safety net to protect consumers from the worst offenders which is the whole idea.

  • icon

    They are not as good as gold if they are part of an Organisation actively campaigning for more Regulations for LL’s, that are crippled with Regulations.
    They were only set up about a dozen years while we have been LL’s for Decades now they want to rule the roost. When we were struggling to survive and build our Business they weren’t there & only a handful of letting Agents in London not like now at least a dozen in every Borough calling all the shots. Also it’s about time the question was posed why was Section 21 brought in, its obvious to me many Campaigners to get rid don’t know this or even if born.


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