20% Increase In Formal Complaints To Property Ombudsman

The property Ombudsman experienced a 20 per cent spike in formal complaints last year according to its annual report for 2019.

Similarly to other years. communication and record keeping were the most complained about elements of a client’s legal service.

These issues were followed by complaints handling with law firms, marketing or advertising concerns and instructions/terms of business disputes.

The report claims the Property Ombudsman received 30,365 enquiries last year. Despite the figure representing just a 4 per cent rise from 2018’s figures, the number of enquiries resulting in formal complaints rose by 20 per cent to 5,106.

Whilst the number of formal complaints grew by a fifth, compensatory awards made by agents only increased by 1.4 per cent to £2.20 million.

Of the total complaints made, two thirds (63 per cent) were supported by the Ombudsman with an average pay out of £742.

Katrine Sporle, of the Property Ombudsman, said:

“2019 was another busy year for TPO. Complaints ascended year on year again and we also saw the complexities of cases increase, particularly in the residential leasehold management field.

“As always, I’m proud that the team rose to the challenge of rising complaint numbers. Our Customer Services team responded to a record number of people, over 30,000 initial enquiries raised, with nearly 10,000 of those received through our 24/7 online chat service, a 7% increase on 2018. Just over 25,000 enquiries that did not go on to become formal complaints saw TPO effectively assist consumers in other ways, whether that be signposting them to the correct place or person or giving advice and guidance to promote a local resolution between them and the agent.

“In order to further enhance consumer experience, TPO has translated its work in the initial enquiry stage into a self-diagnostic tool. Still in its piloting phase, we hope to promote the online tool this year.

“Overall, 2019 represented a year of growth and improvement. 2020 has already brought a huge challenge with the outbreak of Covid-19. TPO acknowledges that the current situation is an extremely difficult one, for agents and consumers alike. TPO is here to help as best it can and is operating a full service. Consumers can still make a complaint at this time and the property industry can access information, guides and advice via our website.”

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