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Record number of complaints made to The Property Ombudsman in 2018

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Over £2m was awarded to consumers last year in compensation, as six in 10 complaints were upheld
Record number of complaints made to The Property Ombudsman in 2018

The Property Ombudsman received a record number of enquiries in 2018 (29,023), up 22% on 2017, according to its annual report, released this week.

Of these, 4,246 went on to be formal complaints, which also rose significantly year on year by 16%.

The Ombudsman supported 2,782 of those complaints, of which 2,381 required a financial award to be paid.

For the first time, compensatory awards paid by sales and letting agents to consumers reached in excess of £2million (£2.17m), a total which has more than doubled since 2016.

Who complained about what?

The Property Ombudsman dealt with 2,450 complaints relating to lettings, 1,304 relating to sales and 349 for residential leasehold management. The average awards were £845, £604 and £497 respectively.

The top cause of both sales and lettings complaints relate to communication and record keeping, with the highest concentration of complaints coming from London and the South East.

In terms of lettings complaints, 66% were supported by the Ombudsman. Most complaints (54%) were made by landlords, while 42% were made by tenants.

The top causes of sales complaints were communication & record keeping, management, tenancy agreements, inventories and deposits and complaint handling.

For sales complaints, 58% were supported by the Ombudsman. Six in 10 complaints were made by sellers, while 34% were made by buyers.

The top causes of complaints were communication & record keeping, marketing & advertising, instructions/terms of business/commission/termination and complaint handling.

Katrine Sporle, Property Ombudsman, said: “2018 was an extremely busy year for TPO with increasing demand for the service.

“This does not necessarily mean that agents’ standards are slipping, but rather that consumers are increasingly aware of their rights, particularly off the back of the Government’s consultation into strengthening redress in the housing market, and subsequent media publicity on the future of consumer protection and driving out poor practice in the industry.”

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