The Property Ombudsman (TPO) has revealed that it received a “record number” of enquiries in 2018, up 22% to 29,023 against the year prior.
In its 2018 annual report, released only last week, the group said that 4,246 enquiries went on to be formal complaints, marking a year-on-year increase of 16%.
The Ombudsman supported 2782 complaints, of which 2381 required a financial award to be paid. Compensatory awards paid by agents to consumers reached £2.17m in the year, which more than doubled figures from 2016.
The report revealed that amongst sales enquiries, 1,465 complaints were resolved and 58% of complaints were supported by the Ombudsman.
Some 60% of complaints were made by sellers, whilst 34% were made by buyers. The South East had the most complaints at 16%, with 11% of complaints filed in Greater London and 9% filed in the North West.
The top causes of complaints were communication and record keeping, marketing and advertising, instructions/terms of business/commission/termination and complaint handling.
Katrine Sporle, from the 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.”
She added: “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.”