TPO reveals rise in financial awards for consumers

The Property Ombudsman has revealed that last year saw a rise in financial awards to consumers.

In its annual report, the TPO state that in 2017, financial awards were made to consumers in 2,408 cases, totalling £1.36 million – an increase of 11% on 2016.

Where sales were concerned, the report reveals a drop of 16% in the number of formal complaints resolved year on year to 1,098, with the majority being made by sellers.

The report set out the top causes of complaints, revealing that communication and record keeping were the most common reasons, followed by marketing and advertising.

At 23%, the South East was the region with the highest volume of complaints, whilst Greater London came in second place at 14%.

On a general level, the Ombudsman saw an increase of 68% in consumer enquiries; this has been attributed to the introduction of the “open all hours” service.

Commenting on the report was Property Ombudsman, Katrine Sporle. She said: “Our primary focus has always been on providing expert advice and quality outcomes. Our early advice plays a key role in empowering consumers by equipping them with information so they can try and resolve the issue directly with their agent.  Our Early Resolution approach seeks to resolve straightforward disputes quickly and our Adjudication Service is wholly focused on fair and reasonable outcomes.  TPO takes a continuous improvement approach to the services we provide, enabling us to meet the needs of consumers more efficiently and to raise standards in the industry through information, education and advice on systemic issues arising in what is a dynamic industry.

“With 38,272 offices and departments now following our Codes of Practice, approved by Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), I think it is encouraging that complaints have risen by just 3% and that 10% fewer agents had to be referred to our Disciplinary and Standards Committee.

“We agree with Government that there are gaps in the current provisions of consumer redress within the property sector which need addressing and, together with industry and consumer partners, we are keen to play our part in regulation and redress reform.

“Overall, 2017 represented a positive year of innovation and improvement, which will reassure consumers and the industry that there is an alternative to costly and length.”

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