Agents Vulnerable to Complaints as Virtual Viewings Increase
Over half of agents have let a property using only virtual viewings in the last 12 months, leaving them open to complaints, according to the Property Redress Scheme.
55.07 per cent of the respondents to a Property Redress Scheme member survey, said they had rented a property in the last 12 months using only virtual viewings. Only using virtual viewings leaves the agents vulnerable to complaints, under the Consumer Rights Act, as the tenants may not be conscious of all the details regarding the property.
Sean Hooker, head of redress at the Property Redress Scheme, explains, “Virtual viewings have several great benefits such as helping to filter out customers who aren’t sure the property is right for them; minimising unnecessary disruption to current tenants; allowing potential tenants to view properties at a time convenient to them; and eliminating travel time for both themselves and the agent.
He added: “However, caution should be exercised, especially when the tenant is at the stage of signing on the dotted line, paying a holding deposit or rent in advance. Tenancy agreements are consumer contracts and the consumer protection regulations, give tenants security against mis-selling, misleading actions, and omissions.”
The private rented sector has had to learn to adapt to an ever-changing environment in the past year and it will also be affected by the ‘new normal’. Agents stated that in the last 12 months they had learnt to work remotely, be more flexible and work online.
Current guidance from the Government during the transition from Covid restrictions states that whilst there are no legal limits on the households which may view a home in person, they continue to recommend that tenants take advantage of any opportunities to view homes remotely before committing to view in person.