8:03 AM, 2nd November 2022, About 11 months ago
Consumer demand for help and advice from The Property Ombudsman (TPO) rose by 15% in 2021 to 45,007 enquiries – and has risen by a staggering 48% since 2019.
The organisation says that the rise underlines the demand from consumers for justice and to have their issues taken seriously.
They also point out that the rise in demand highlights the importance of TPO’s consumer enquiry services help bring trust and confidence to the property sector.
Throughout 2021, TPOs consumer enquiry services, delivered through its portal and directly by the enquiries team, fielded 45,007 enquiries.
Of those, 39,499 were provided with expert advice and guidance resolving matters before they became formal complaints or, where appropriate, signposted to other organisations.
The other 5,508, evolved into disputes accepted for investigation by The Property Ombudsman.
Of the 6,006 disputes that TPO resolved last year, 49% were done through early resolution so there was no need for a formal investigation.
A financial settlement or award was granted in 2,860 of cases, with just 17 unpaid awards resulting in the expulsion of 14 agents from the scheme.
This equates to a 99% compliance rate, with the 14 agents constituting just 0.04% of TPO’s 39,019 membership.
Of those disputes, 2,656 relating to lettings, 1,807 were related to sales, 1,356 were for residential leasehold management (RLM) and 187 for other property professionals.
The biggest awards were £15,981 (lettings), £18,000 (sales) and £9,681 (RLM), and the average awards were £517, £580 and £415 respectively.
Property Ombudsman, Rebecca Marsh, said: “I continue to be astonished by the volume of enquiries TPO receives and the growth we have seen over the last few years.
“When comparing the volume of enquiries to the number of disputes which go on to become formal investigations, it is clear to see the value that our enquiries team is providing.
“Firstly, to consumers who can speak to someone who will listen to their issues and provide expert advice to resolve matters before they become formal complaints.
“Over the last few years, we have seen call lengths nearly double with issues becoming more complex.
“Secondly, to member businesses who are saved time, resources and costs associated with having to deal with the complaint themselves.”
She added: “Following the release of the ‘Fairer Private Rented Sector’ white paper, a collection of reforms built on the principles that everyone has a right to a decent home and be treated fairly, and the current economic situation, I anticipate our enquiries will continue their upward trajectory.
“As an independent Ombudsman, our role in these reforms will be to help to facilitate discussion between industry and consumer stakeholders and use our evidenced based insight to help them and policymakers reach outcomes that have a balanced and positive impact.
“We will of course continue to provide advice, guidance and signposting to consumers and members alike, as the industry and the country as a whole goes through this period of change.”
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