Complaints against property agents provides mixed feedback

The annual report on complaints made against property agents showed a slight increase in overall numbers, but a reduction in the complaints made against individual agents.

The Property Redress Scheme (PRS) is operated by the Hamilton Fraser Group, owners of mydeposits, Landlord Action, Total Landlord Insurance, Ome and Client Money Protect. Its annual report provides consumer feedback on estate agents, letting agents and property management companies.

The 2021 report covers the activities of 16,272 agencies including 791 private and corporate landlords who have registered on a voluntary basis. Separately, the PRS has recently partnered with the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) to launch a pilot landlord redress scheme of an additional 4,250 landlords and over 32,000 properties (this pilot will form part of next year’s report statistics).

Highlights from the 2021 PRS report include:

  • 1,872 complaint enquiries compared to 1,828 in 2020 – a slight increase of 2.4 per cent. This is a sizeable net reduction when the substantial increase in the number of 2021 UK property transactions is factored in;
  • Total complaints accepted – 609 (down from 639 in 2020) and down 4.7 per cent year on year;
  • Total membership numbers increased by 8.97 per cent from 14,932 to 16,272;
  • Total amount of early resolution awards recommended – £239,365 up from £110,144 and up 117.3 per cent year on year;
  • Total amount of decision awards issued – £351,212 up from £171,427, and up 104.9 per cent year on year;
  • Average (early resolution) award per complaint upheld – £1,012;
  • Decision awards complied with – 87 per cent, up from 78 per cent in 2020;
  • The reason that attracted the most complaints – Lettings: duty of care. Sales: marketing and advertising issues. Landlords: property maintenance issues;
  • The level of compliance with decisions increased from 78 per cent in 2020 to 87 per cent in 2021. This shows more PRS agents complied with decisions to the benefit of consumers; and
  • Number of agencies expelled – 46 (45.7 per cent based in London).

Sean Hooker, Head of Redress at the PRS says: “Despite huge challenges in the property sector for agents of late, we should note that the number of complaints per agent has reduced considerably in net terms. A far greater number of sales and lettings were transacted in 2021 versus 2020 yet complaints made via the PRS rose by just 2.4 per cent.

“I’m delighted that our membership numbers have increased so substantially, taking our total membership to 16,272 and cementing us as the largest lettings redress scheme in the UK now.

“It’s fair to say that customer service satisfaction within the estate and lettings industry is also trending in a positive direction, with only a minute proportion of our members seeing complaints issued against them.

On the 46 expulsions, he explained this amounted to only 0.28 per cent of the membership. “That’s regrettable but also shows the property industry and its customers that our approach is one with teeth where needed.”

Patrick Mooney, Editor