More Agents Join Property Redress Scheme, But Complaints Rise

Complaints referred to the Property Redress Scheme against its members grew by more than a quarter during 2020, in what was a challenging period for the property sector.

In total during the period 1 December 2019 to 30 November 2020, the scheme received 1,829 initial complaints compared with 1,444 in the previous year, with lettings making up the majority (80 per cent), followed by sales (10 per cent) and residential lettings management (10 per cent). This is a year-on-year increase of 27 per cent overall according to statistics released by the government approved scheme via their annual report website.

The membership of the scheme increased by 24 per cent from 12,043 members in 2019 to 14,932 members in 2020. The average number of complaints per member is 0.12, which was the same as in 2019.

A worrying statistic shows that 78 per cent of its decisions in 2020 were complied with compared to 90 per cent in the previous year, with defaulting members being removed from the scheme. The average award made to complainants has also risen to £2,696.31, more than double last year’s average. However, the scheme explained that it awarded just over £453,000 in total (26 per cent less than in 2019) suggesting that a minority of agents were responsible for complaints and awards.

Sean Hooker, head of redress at the Property Redress Scheme, said: “The fact that the Property Redress Scheme has grown in membership and the number of reported complaints is on the increase suggests that the scheme is working for the consumer, which was the reason for the requirement for agents to join a redress scheme.  Clearly landlords and tenants expect a better service from their agents and are speaking out when their expectations are not being met.”

He added: “But considering the difficult year that consumers and property professionals have faced, I am encouraged by the fact that only a small percentage of our membership experienced a complaint against them which shows that the majority of agents offer a good and personal service to their landlords and tenants.”

He concluded: “The scheme works hard to both educate and guide our members with an example being the launch of our tenancy mediation service during the height of the pandemic last year, helping to keep tenants in homes and landlords to balance their books. Through our focus on early resolution, we have once again reduced the time it takes to resolve a complaint for our members from 42 days to just 35 days from complaint to closure.  But there is so much more to be done. We will be engaging with our members to understand how we can provide a better consumer redress service and further raise standards in the industry.”