As several hundred agents gather for The Property Ombudsman’s second annual conference in Birmingham today, the TPO has revealed that the number of complaints it resolved during 2015 increased by 32% compared to the year before.
TPO says this is mostly down to the high number of agents joining its scheme during 2015 after membership of one of the three schemes became mandatory following legislative changes in 2014. TPO is now the largest of the redress schemes with 35,374 member branches and, over the past five years, it has seen membership grow by 82%.
Katrine says that during 2015 TPO received 16,265 enquiries from the public about sales and letting agents and resolved 3,304 complaints (up 32% on 2014) including 1,955 complaints about letting agents (up 33%) and 1,220 complaints about sales agents (up 27%).
The largest number of complaints came from agents’ clients such as landlords and sellers and the most common complaints in lettings were about poor management, communication and record keeping, and end of tenancy issues.
A majority of complaints about sales agents concerned communication and record keeping as well as marketing and advertising issues and terms of business disputes.
“Overall, this is good news for consumers and redress, but not so great for the reputation of agents who collectively paid out over £800,000 in awards,” says Katrine Sporle, Property Ombudsman.
“My message for those agents is simple; pay more attention to TPO’s Codes of Practice and raise your standards.”
TPO has also published several examples of complaints that it has resolved recently, including one example involving letting fees. It details how an agent took a £250 holding deposit from a tenant and only afterwards informed them that they would also have to pay a further £200 admin fee and didn’t make it clear the fees would include VAT. The complainants asked to be compensated £250 but TPO decided instead to award them £150 for “aggravation caused”.