The latest report released by The Property Ombudsman reveals a continuing upward trend in new referrals, 42% against the previous year. This is indicative of both the general trend in the consumer world to challenge when something does not give satisfaction, as well as the growing number of agents (28% more than at the start of 2014) now signed up as members of TPO.
Six months on from the introduction of new legislation, making it a legal requirement for lettings agents and property managers in England to join a government approved redress scheme, the report indicates the number of letting offices now signed up to TPO scheme has reached a record level of 12,915. This brings the total number of sales and lettings offices offering TPO's free, independent route to resolve disputes to 26,735.
In his report, The Ombudsman 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.
Commenting on his Report, Mr Hamer said:
2014 saw continued and significant growth in the Private Rented Sector. 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 report include:
- 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, followed by Greater London (21%) the South West (9%) on par with North West (9%)
- 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, followed by Greater London (13%) & South West and Eastern Region both (11%)
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 (accounting for 13% of all sales related issues) and management failure (accounting for 4% of all lettings related issues).
To view a copy of the Annual Report please click here.