TPO complaints rise 16% in 2018

TPO complaints rise 16% in 2018

11:32 AM, 13th May 2019, About 4 years ago

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The Property Ombudsman (TPO) has released its 2018 annual report reflecting ever-increasing consumer demand for the service.

The report reveals TPO received a record number of enquiries in 2018 (29,023), up 22% on 2017.  Of these, 4,246 went on to be formal complaints, which also rose significantly year on year by 16%. The Ombudsman supported 2782 complaints, of which 2381 required a financial award to be paid.  For the first time, compensatory awards paid by agents to consumers reached in excess of £2 million (£2.17m), a total which has more than doubled since 2016.

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.

The report also includes eight example case summaries of complaints received by TPO last year along with the outcome, as well as statistics relating to the minority of cases (0.1%) where agents were referred to TPO’s Compliance Committee for possible expulsion from the scheme for non-compliance. 97% of agents paid the Ombudsman’s award to the complainant.

Lettings statistical highlights:

  • 66% of complaints were supported by the Ombudsman
  • 54% of complaints were made by landlords, while 42% were made by tenants
  • The average lettings award was £845
  • For the third year running, the regions with the highest volume of complaints were Greater London (20%), the South East (17%) and North West (11%)
  • The top causes of complaints were: (1) communication & record keeping, (2) management (3) tenancy agreements, inventories and deposits and (4)) complaint handling

Sales statistical highlights:

  • 58% of complaints were supported by the Ombudsman
  • 60% of complaints were made by sellers, while 34% were made by buyers
  • The average sales award was £608
  • The regions with the highest volume of complaints were the South East (16%), Greater London (11%) and North West (9%)
  • The top causes of complaints were: (1) communication & record keeping, (2) marketing & advertising, (3) instructions/terms of business/commission/termination and (4) 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. TPO now also has 41,421 offices and departments following our Codes of Practice, approved by Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), 8% more than in 2017, an ever-increasing figure as we look to further extend our role to cover gaps in redress.

“I’m proud to say that my team not only coped with this increased workload but enabled the service to go from strength to strength. Our Customer Services team responded to a record number of people – nearly 30,000, who contacted TPO via phone, email, post or online chat service, either by signposting them to the right organisation or giving immediate advice on how to raise a complaint. We also handled more complaints than ever before, identified complaint trends causing rising levels of consumer detriment and took action to combat these, and modernised our processes to provide a faster service to consumers.

“Overall, 2018 represented a year of growth and improvement and as we look ahead to 2019, I’m confident that TPO will continue to raise standards, update our Sales and Lettings Codes of Practice to reflect new legislation and meet whatever challenges the industry faces.

Case Summaries

TPO has over 28 years’ experience advising consumers who contact the scheme when they have exhausted an organisation’s internal complaint’s process but want an alternative to avoid the expense and time taken by going to court.  The annual report provides some example case summaries which represent daily life, rather than the more extreme but unusual cases. Topics include a dual fee dispute, issues with surveying, auctions, referencing and more.

Katrine Sporle will draw on details from the annual report and what this means for the industry at The Property Ombudsman Conference on 10th July. Tickets are available at:

The full annual report is available in an e-book [here], or PDF [here] and all case summaries are available on the TPO website.

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