Big rise in lettings enquiries to The Property Ombudsman
The Property Ombudsman has reported a big rise in enquiries over last year and a huge rise since the pre-Covid year, 2019.
Demand for help and advice from TPO rose by 15 per cent in 2021 to 45,007 enquiries, and has risen by a staggering 48 per cent since 2019.
Throughout 2021, TPO’s consumer enquiry services, delivered through its portal and directly by the enquiries team, fielded 45,007 enquiries.
Some 39,499 of these 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 TPO.
Of the 6,006 disputes that The Property Ombudsman resolved last year, 49 per cent were done so through early resolution with no need for a formal investigation.
There was a financial settlement or award granted in 2,860 of cases, with just 17 unpaid awards resulting in the expulsion of 14 agents from the scheme. This translates to a 99 per cent compliance rate, with the 14 agents constituting just 0.04 per cent of TPO’s 39,019 membership.
TPO dealt with 2,656 disputes relating to lettings, 1,807 relating to sales, 1,356 for residential leasehold management and 187 for other property professionals. The biggest awards were £15,981 for lettings, £18,000 for sales and £9,681 for residential leasehold management, and the average awards were £517, £580 and £415 respectively.
TPO Rebecca Marsh says: “I continue to be astonished by the volume of enquires 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.
“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 that everyone should 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 policy makers 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.”