Zeta Homes ARLAThe Property OmbudsmanTrading Standards Institute

Complaints To Tpos Rise Against Sales Agents

Date Added 01/10/2014

The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme has reported an increase in the number of complaints in the first six months of this year, compared with the same period last year.

The number of initial complaints about letting agents was slightly down (4,759 compared with 4,878 the year before), while the number of initial complaints against sales agents was up (2,828 against 2,476).

Altogether, including complaints against other categories of members, TPO received 8,474 initial complaints, up from 8,074.

Source: Propetyindustryeye

Most of the complaints were not accepted for further investigation. However, even though initial complaints against letting agents were down, the number that were taken on rose sharply by 40% from 567 in the first half of last year to 796 in the first half of this year.

While this was a record number of complaints accepted from tenants and landlords about letting agents, the number of letting agents subscribing to TPO also rose.

The rise in complaints reported for the first six months of this year was ahead of the requirement that comes into force today for every letting agent in England to register with an approved redress scheme.

The number of complaints accepted against sales agents also rose sharply by 42% from 382 to 544.

There are also more sales agents, and more letting agents, signed up to TPO: a total of 13,125 sales offices, up from 12,125 a year ago, and 11,575 letting agent branches, up from 10,391.

The number of sales agents signed up to TPO includes 204 online agents.

The overall membership of TPO is up 15%.

The figures, published in TPO`s new interim report, reveal that 1,187 complaints were resolved in total about both sales and lettings agents between January 1 and June 30, with 721 complaints (representing 61% of all complaints) made against letting agents – a 37% increase on the same period last year.

The ombudsman upheld 74% of the complaints.

Ombudsman Christopher Hamer said: `Up until now, there has been no legal requirement for any letting agent to register with a redress scheme, which has left thousands of tenants and landlords unable to access our free, fair and independent dispute resolution service.

`That is shown by the fact that around 20% of the initial consumer inquiries we received in this period related to lettings agents that were not signed up to TPO.

`I am pleased to note that the new legislation will change that and we`ve already seen nearly 1,000 firms register this year, making us the largest redress scheme with 11,744 lettings offices under my jurisdiction and following our code of practice, which sets out what service consumers should receive from member firms.

`The sharp increase in the number of lettings agents registering for redress with TPO, combined with TPO`s increased profile and the ever-growing number of households renting, goes some way to explain why we`ve seen such a significant increase in the number of lettings complaints, with more than half of our total inquiries now coming from landlords and tenants that feel they have been treated unfairly.

`The new legislation will make it an offence for any ‘rogue` agent that has not registered to trade and they will face a fine of up to £5,000.`

Key findings in the latest TPO report include:

* Registered agents (p7): more than 4,000 additional agents registered with TPO, with sales and lettings representing the biggest growth areas. A total of 30,128 agents registered with TPO across all jurisdictions – a 15% increase on the same period last year.

* Consumer inquiries (p8): More than 8,474 consumers contacted TPO regarding a property dispute (a 4.6% increase on the same period last year). More than half of all the inquiries received were regarding lettings disputes with 4,759 inquiries logged (56.1% of all inquiries).

* Complaints (p9): Complaints grew by 37% overall with 1,187 cases reviewed, of which 721 were against letting agents (up 37%) and 544 were against sales agents (up 42%). The Ombudsman upheld 74% of all lettings complaints while 61% of all sales complaints were upheld.

Source: propertyindustryeye
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