Complaints to Property Ombudsman in UK up 3% in 2017, annual report shows

The number of complaints received by the UK’s Property Ombudsman increased by 3% last year with awards to consumers reaching £1.36 million, an increase of 11%.

The TPO’s annual report reveals that the top causes lettings complaints were management, communication and record keeping, tenancy agreements, inventories, and deposits and in the sales sector communication, marketing and advertising, and instructions and terms of business.

In the lettings sector 2,212 formal complaints were resolved, 11% more than 2016, some 67% of complaints were supported by the Ombudsman, 49% of complaints were made by landlords, 45% were made by tenants and the average lettings award was £625.

For the second year running, the regions with the highest volume of complaints were Greater London at 23%, the South East at 20%, and the North West at 11%.

In the sales sector 1,098 formal complaints were resolved, 16% fewer than 2016, some 62% of complaints were supported by the Ombudsman, 60% of complaints were made by sellers, while 34% were made by buyers and the average sales award was £532.

The regions with the highest volume of complaints were the South East at 23%, Greater London at 14% and the North West and the South West both at 10%.

‘Our primary focus has always been on providing expert advice and quality outcomes. Our early advice plays a key role in empowering consumers by equipping them with information so they can try and resolve the issue directly with their agent. Our Early Resolution approach seeks to resolve straightforward disputes quickly and our Adjudication Service is wholly focused on fair and reasonable outcomes,’ said Katrine Sporle, Property Ombudsman.

‘TPO takes a continuous improvement approach to the services we provide, enabling us to meet the needs of consumers more efficiently, and to raise standards in the industry through information, education and advice on systemic issues arising in what is a dynamic industry,’ she pointed out.

She explained that with 38,272 offices and departments now following TPO codes of practice approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), it is encouraging that complaints have risen by just 3% and that 10% fewer agents had to be referred to the TPO’s Disciplinary and Standards Committee.

‘We agree with the Government that there are gaps in the current provisions of consumer redress within the property sector which need addressing and, together with industry and consumer partners, we are keen to play our part in regulation and redress reform,’ Sporle added.

‘Overall, 2017 represented a positive year of innovation and improvement, which will reassure consumers and the industry that there is an alternative to costly and lengthy court proceedings that can be relied on to provide timely, fair and reasonable remedies,’ she concluded.