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More people in the rented property sector in England are prepared to launch a challenge when they are not satisfied with their tenancy, according to the latest annual report from the Property Ombudsman. It comes at a time when legislation makes it a legal requirement for lettings agents and property managers in England to join a government approved redress scheme. Some 28% more signed up as members of the ombudsman at the end of 2014 compared with at the beginning of the year. Meanwhile the number of referrals were up 42% in 2014 compared to the previous year. The report says this is indicative of both the general trend in the consumer world to challenge when something does not give satisfaction. ‘Overall 2014 saw continued and significant growth in the private rented sector. With an estimated 1.6 million private landlords, many of whom have limited experience and understanding of their responsibilities, and large numbers of consumers seeking tenancies, the role of letting and managing agents in providing quality customer service based on a comprehensive knowledge of relevant legislation, is more important now than ever before,’ said the ombudsman Christopher Hamer. He repeated his call for a properly structured regulatory regime for the lettings sector. ‘Over the past year we have seen numerous pieces of legislation being passed which deal with aspects of the sector. Whilst any controls must be welcomed I feel an opportunity has been missed to bring all such legal obligations into a coherent and sensible single law to avoid the potential for inconsistency and misunderstanding of what is required,’ he pointed out. The report data shows there was a 19% increase in registered membership letting offices, a 40% rise in lettings cases received, a 33% increase in cases resolved via mediation, and a 10% increase in cases resolved via formal review. Some 11% of lettings issues reported to the ombudsman related to repair and maintenance, 54% of complainants were landlords versus 44% tenants and the average lettings award has risen 27% from £411.97 to £524.10. Some 23% of complainants were from the South East, followed by Greater London at 21% the South West at 9% and the North West also on 9%. The data also shows that there was a 14% increase in registered membership sales offices, a 43% rise in sales cases received, a 21% increase in cases resolved via mediation, and a 13% increase in cases resolved via formal review. Some 20% of sales issues reported to the ombudsman related to communication failure, 59% of complainants were sellers versus 39% buyers and 23% of complainants were from the South East, followed by Greater London at 13% and the South West and Eastern region both at 11%. Continue reading →
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