United Kingdom

The Property Ombudsman reveals biggest causes of consumer complaints

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How many formal complaints are made against letting agents each year?

The Property Ombudsman, one of England’s two government-approved redress schemes, has released its latest annual report detailing the complaints it receives from landlords and tenants, as well as the number of enquiries it receives that are not escalated.

In total, TPO received 16,367 lettings-related enquiries in 2022, of which 2,650 were escalated to a complaint, a 0.2% rise compared to 2021.

The biggest share of enquiries, 61%, came from tenants (including more than 1,500 tenant enquiries about their landlords, which TPO can provide guidance on but cannot escalate to a complaint), while 31% came from landlords.

According to TPO, complaints are also getting more complex on average, and a higher proportion had to go all the way to a formal decision instead of being resolved early.

Lessons for the industry

The reasons behind tenant and landlord enquiries contain some lessons for letting agents. The most common issue for tenants was maintenance, making up more than a quarter of enquiries. According to TPO, this highlights the need to improve standards in the private rented sector.

On the landlords’ side, the biggest share of enquiries to TPO were seeking advice and guidance. This was also the second biggest cause of tenant enquiries. TPO notes that this includes questions about the roles and responsibilities of tenants, landlords and agents. This may be caused in part by confusion over new and upcoming legislation, such as the Renters (Reform) Bill.

When it came to formal complaints, the biggest issue was tenancy management – a category that includes maintenance along with other issues. Complaints handling was the second biggest cause of complaints.

All this demonstrates the importance for letting agents to deliver an effective and responsive service and to provide expert guidance to landlords and tenantsFocusing on this instead of getting bogged down in time-consuming, repetitive admin tasks will help agencies to stand out.

More positively, it also demonstrates that most estate and letting agencies provide a good service. In total, across sales and lettings, TPO accepted 3,868 cases in 2022, of which a little less than half (2,919) were resolved in the consumer’s favour. For comparison, there were more than 24,500 estate and letting agencies in the UK in 2022.

Other letting agent headlines

Get on your bike for the Great British Property Cycle! – Property Industry Eye

Thousands of agencies yet to register with HMRC – Letting Agent Today

Connells launches yet another investigation into ‘pressure sales’ – The Negotiator

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