Lost In The Noise - A Sharp Rise In Complaints To TPO

A report from The Property Ombudsman - lost in the sadness of Mandela’s death and the Autumn Statement kerfuffle - is worth a look.

Membership of TPO between 31 August 2012 and the same date this year,rose from 22,453 offices (including residential sales, lettings, commercial sales and leasing, leasehold management and even a small number of international offices) to 25,088.

But of course it is what the TPO calls enquiries - “complaints” to you and me - that are most interesting.

On the residential lettings side, there were 3,454 enquiries in the year to late August 2013 - this is a 19.6 per cent rise on the 2012 figure of 2,889. However, the 2013 total needs to have just over 1,000 cases deducted because they were complaints that either fell outside TPO’s terms of reference or were against non-TPO member agents.

On the resi sales side, there were 1,833 complaints in the year to late August 2013, a whopping 29.2 per cent rise on the equivalent period in 2012. About 500 cases need to be deducted from the total because they could not be dealt with by TPO.

The Ombudsman himself, Christopher Hamer, tends to be restrained in his review and criticism of the industry, whatever his workload, but along with the report he has released case studies of complaints to highlight what he considers to be the big issues facing the sector.

“I felt it was important to share a selection of the cases that are especially relevant to The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations to help agents understand the implications of any misleading actions and omissions, and to ensure that consumers are protected from unfair commercial practices” he says.

Decoded, this means that as wider consumer legislation is applied increasingly to resi sales and lettings, it remains critical for agents and consumers to be aware of, respectively, their obligations and rights.

The full TPO report is on www.tpos.co.uk

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