A record number of complaints dealt with in UK lettings and sales industries in 2016

The UK’s Property Ombudsman resolved a record number of complex complaints in the lettings and sales markets last year which resulted in awards of £1.2 million, up 51%.

Its annual report reveals that this was the first time awards exceed the million pound mark at a time when the number of difficult complaints increased by 7.5% to 3,553 while overall there were 14,218 enquiries from consumers seeking advice.

At the same time the number of sales and lettings agents joining the redress scheme also rose, up 6.1% and 7% respectively.

In the lettings market some 1,997 formal complaints were resolved, a rise of 1.6%, of which 51% were made by tenants and 45% by landlords. The average award was £531 and the highest was £21,972.

The regions with the highest volume of complaints were Greater London at 25%, the South East at 23% and the North West at 10%. The top four causes of complaints were management, communication and record keeping and referencing.

In the sales market 1,310 formal complaints were resolved, up 7.4% from the previous year or which 61% complaints were made by sellers and 35% by buyers. The average sales award was £397.

The regions with the highest volume of complaints were the South East at 25%, followed by the South West at 13% then Greater London at 12%.

Communication and record keeping was the top cause of complaints, followed by marketing and advertising, then instructions and terms of business and finally in-house handling of complaints.

Property Ombudsman Katrine Sporle explained that this year its codes of practice approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), have been revised to clarify many of the issues consumers found confusing or misleading, including full disclosure on fees and charges, pre-contract deposits and referencing.

‘To help put things right, we resolved a record number of complex complaints, which resulted in total awards reaching £1.2 million. We will continue to set things right by promoting best practice through our regular case studies, regional workshops, industry seminars, and national conferences,’ she said.

‘There are now 38,017 offices and departments following our unique codes of practice, demonstrating agents’ commitment to raising standards and providing a better service to their customers. It is evident that the vast majority of consumers are happy with their agent,’ she added.

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