The latest interim report released by The Property Ombudsman reveals more than half of the 9141 enquiries received related to lettings disputes, nearly double that of sales. This not only 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, but has left Christopher Hamer, Property Ombudsman, calling for a Property Agents Act.
As his 9 year term in office as Property Ombudsman draws to a close, Christopher Hamer has experienced fundamental changes to agent obligations throughout the property sector. However, he believes that current provisions do not go far enough in ensuring openness, disclosure and consistency for agents, tenants and landlords alike.
Mr Hamer explained “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.” 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 1 January and 30 June 2015.
Key highlights from TPO’s 2015 Interim Report reveal that:
• Registered agents (p6): 3641 additional sales and letting agents registered with TPO. A total of 34,944 agents registered with TPO across all jurisdictions – a 16% increase on the same period last year
• Consumer enquiries (p7): 9,141 consumers contacted TPO regarding a property dispute (an 8% increase on the same period last year). More than half of all the enquiries received were regarding lettings disputes with 5,303 enquiries logged (58%), nearly double that of sales enquiries which represented 30%.
• Complaints (p8): 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%).
• Consumer case studies (p9): The Ombudsman hand-picked a selection of both sales and lettings case studies to highlight issues varying from holding deposits, eviction, renewal fees and difficult neighbours, to commission fees and sales particulars.
View a copy of the Annual Report here
What is The Property Ombudsman?
The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme offers an independent and impartial dispute resolution service to consumers who have been unable to resolve their disputes with a registered agent. The scheme was established in 1990. The Ombudsman can provide redress to place the consumer back in the position they were before the complaint arose, achieving a full and final settlement of the dispute and all claims made by either party. Where appropriate, the Ombudsman can make compensatory awards in individual cases up to a maximum of £25,000 for actual and quantifiable loss and/or for aggravation, distress and/or inconvenience caused by the actions of a registered agent.
For more information about TPO, please visit our website at http://www.tpos.co.uk