45% rise in complaints sparks calls for letting regulation

45% rise in complaints sparks calls for letting regulation


The Property Ombudsman, whose purpose is to rule on complaints which have not been satisfactorily dealt with by estate agents, has said that letting agents should be regulated to protect both tenants and landlords.

In the latest annual report from Ombudsman Christopher Hamer, it has been revealed that disputes with letting agents have risen from 28% to 49% over the past year.

He predicted that two-thirds of his caseload this year would be made up of problems over lettings.

Mr Hamer attributed the trend to higher levels of consumer awareness, more letting agents belonging to redress schemes, and increased activity in the letting markets as a result of the depressed property market. 

Noting that flat lining property sales had led to more home owners letting their properties to tenants instead of selling, Mr Hamer noted, “[My] overall workload reduced by 15% simply because the number of sales disputes referred declined [which is] perhaps inevitable…given the market conditions over the past year.”

As a result of regulations requiring estate agents to be registered with an official redress scheme, 90% of UK estate agents have already signed up with the Property Ombudsman’s scheme.

However, amongst letting agents, who currently are not subject to such rules, there are many firms operating under what Hamer terms as “their own interpretation of what are appropriate standards.”

He went on to state that this was an “alarming inconsistency.”

Mr Hamer called on whichever party wins the general election to introduce legislation to improve the protection for consumers and landlords who use letting agents.


In the meantime, he urges any landlord or prospective tenant to ensure that they use an agent who is a member of a recognised trade association or any agent who is a member of the Property Ombudsman scheme.

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