During 2020, the number of complaints referred to the Property Redress Scheme against its members grew by more than a quarter, in what was a challenging period for the property sector.
Indeed, between 1 December 2019 and 30 November 2020, some 1,829 complaints were received by the scheme, up from 1,444 during the previous year. Complaints in relation to lettings made up 80% of that total, while the remaining 20% was shared evenly between sales and residential lettings management. This is a year-on-year increase of 27% overall, according to statistics released by the government approved scheme via their annual report website.
Meanwhile, the number of members joining the scheme was up 24% in 2020, increasing from 12,043 during 2019 to 14,932. The average number of complaints per member is 0.12, which was the same as in 2019.
The scheme’s own data shows that 78% of the decisions were complied with in 2020, down from 90% during the previous year. In addition, the average complainant received £2,696.31 last year - more than double the 2019 average. However, the total amount awarded was 26% less than in 2019, suggesting that a minority of agents were responsible for complaints and awards.
Sean Hooker, head of redress at the Property Redress Scheme, said: “The fact that the Property Redress Scheme has grown in membership and the number of reported complaints is on the increase suggests that the scheme is working for the consumer, which was the reason for the requirement for agents to join a redress scheme. Clearly landlords and tenants expect better service from their agents and are speaking out when their expectations are not being met.”
He added: “But considering the difficult year that consumers and property professionals have faced, I am encouraged by the fact that only a small percentage of our membership experienced a complaint against them which shows that the majority of agents offer a good and personal service to their landlords and tenants.”
He concluded: “The scheme works hard to both educate and guide our members with an example being the launch of our tenancy mediation service during the height of the pandemic last year, helping to keep tenants in homes and landlords to balance their books. Through our focus on early resolution, we have once again reduced the time it takes to resolve a complaint for our members from 42 days to just 35 days from complaint to closure. But there is so much more to be done. We will be engaging with our members to understand how we can provide a better consumer redress service and further raise standards in the industry.”