Referrals To The Property Ombudsman Increase

Referrals To The Property Ombudsman Increase

Huge Rise In Referrals To
The Property Ombudsman

There was a 42% increase in the number of referrals to The Property Ombudsman (TPO) last year, according to The Property Ombudsman’s Annual Report for 2014.

The latest publication of The Property Ombudsman’s annual report shows that six months after the introduction of new legislation, making it a legal requirement for UK letting agents and property managers to join one of the three government approved redress schemes, the number of letting agencies and property management companies signed up to the TPO scheme has reached 12,915, a new record level.

The 42% increase in registered property lettings and estate agent businesses brings the total number of UK estate agents and property lettings offices offering free, independent route to resolve property and tenancy disputes to 26,735.This is indicative of both the general trend in consumerism and the increase in the number of lettings and estate agents, (up 28% from the start of 2014), now signed up as members of TPO. However, there has been a significant rise in the number of complaints concerning properties in the UK’s private rental sector (PRS).

The Property Ombudsman is the largest of the three compulsory redress systems operating for sales and lettings agencies in the UK. The 2014 annual report provides a summary of the year ending December 2014, with statistical highlights including enquiry volumes, formal reviews, cases supported, complainant analysis and trends concerning the types of issues reported and several varied consumer case studies.

Mr Christopher Hamer, who is the Property Ombudsman, commented on the TPO’s latest annual report, stating:

”2014 saw continued and significant growth in the Private Rented Sector (PRS). With an estimated 1.6 Million private landlords, many of whom have limited experience and understanding of their responsibilities, and large numbers of consumers seeking tenancies, the role of letting and managing agents in providing quality customer service based on a comprehensive knowledge of relevant legislation, is more important now than ever before. In that context I again call for a properly structured regulatory regime for the lettings sector. Over the past year we have seen numerous pieces of legislation being passed which deal with aspects of the Private Rented Sector. Whilst any controls must be welcomed I feel an opportunity has been missed to bring all such legal obligations into a coherent and sensible single law to avoid the potential for inconsistency and misunderstanding of what is required. Nonetheless as the market changes, we continue to provide as much comprehensive and up to date information as possible through the website and guidance documents in order to support both TPO members and consumers”.

Statistical highlights featured in the 2014 TPO report include:

Property Lettings:

  • 19% increase in registered membership letting offices
  • 40% rise in lettings cases received
  • 33% increase in cases resolved via mediation
  • 10% increase in cases resolved via formal review
  • 11% of lettings issues reported to TPO related to repair and maintenance
  • 54% of complainants were landlords versus 44% tenants
  • The average lettings award has risen 27% from £411.97 to £524.10
  • 23% of complainants were from the South East,
  • 21% of complaints were from Greater London
  • 9% of complaints were from the South West
  • 9% of complaints were from the North West

Property Sales:

  • 14% increase in registered membership sales offices
  • 43% rise in sales cases received
  • 21% increase in cases resolved via mediation
  • 13% increase in cases resolved via formal review
  • 20% of sales issues reported to TPO related to communication failure
  • 59% of complainants were sellers versus 39% buyers
  • 23% of complainants were from the South East
  • 13% of complaints were from Greater London
  • 11% of complaints were from South West and Eastern Regions

Industry case studies

The report also provides a series of case studies to share industry best practice, highlighting some of the most common complaints and how they were dealt with, such as:

  • Disputes over sales particulars – 13% of all sales related issues
  • Management failure – 4% of all lettings related issues.

The case studies cover topics including:

Lettings:

Sales:
Misinformation, Arrears
and No Guarantee
Unauthorised Building Work
All-Inclusive Bills Sale By Tender
Dual tenant-find fee Cancellation of Contracts
Renewal Fees Hidden Fees
Management Failure Mortgage Arrears

 

To view a copy of the Annual Report, please visit: www.tpos.co.uk/annual_reports.htm

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