UK Property Ombudsman calls for new Act to reflect developments in the sector

The UK’s Property Ombudsman has called for the introduction of a Property Agents Act as the current situation is not open or consistent enough.

The call from Christopher Hammer, who is coming to the end of his nine year term as Ombudsman, believe the latest data shows that provisions do not go far enough in terms of disclosure for agents, tenants and landlords.

The figures show that more than half of the 9,141 enquiries received related to lettings disputes, nearly double that of sales. Hammer says this reinforces the importance of legislation introduced a year ago, making it a legal requirements for all letting agents in England to register with an approved redress scheme.

‘A Property Agents Act would update the Estate Agents Act 1979 to reflect developments in the sales market and most relevantly now, bring lettings into a precise framework where all agent activity is covered by one piece of legislation,’ said Hammer.

He has suggested licensing of agents, standardised tenancy agreements and compulsory client money protection could all be areas included in such an Act.

The figures, published in The Property Ombudsman's 2015 Interim Report, reveal that membership levels have grown by 16% in the first half of the year. A total of 1,587 complaints, up 34% on the previous year, were resolved covering sales, lettings and other jurisdictions between 01 January and 30 June 2015.

Some 3,641 additional sales and letting agents registered with TPO and a total of 34,944 agents registered with TPO across all jurisdictions, a 16% increase on the same period last year.

Overall some 9,141 consumers contacted TPO regarding a property dispute, an 8% increase on the same period last year. More than half, 58%, of all the enquiries received were regarding lettings disputes with 5,303 enquiries logged, nearly double that of sales enquiries which represented 30%.

Complaints grew by 34% overall with 1,587 cases reviewed, of which 934 were against letting agents, up 30%, and 596 were against sales agents, up 39%.