9 May 2019

Buy to let landlords made nearly 1,500 complaints to the Property Ombudsman about poor service from letting agents last year.

The latest data from the ombudsman reveals 2,757 complaints were made about letting agents in total – with an average of two out of three upheld and compensation of £845 rewarded.

That adds up to a rate of four complaints every day in 2018.

The most complaints were made for the third year running by landlords in Greater London (20%), the South East (17%) and North West (11%).

Problems with communication and record keeping, management, tenancy agreements, inventories, deposits and complaint handling triggered the most issues with landlords.

“Last year was an extremely busy year 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,” said Property Ombudsman Katrine Sporle.

The Property Ombudsman has also published a recent case study concerning rent guarantees.

The case concerned a letting agent with a three -year guaranteed rent agreement with a landlord.

The agreement allowed the letting agent to sub-let the home in rent for a guaranteed rent but lacked a management agreement other than the tenancy agreement.

The agent ended the agreement early, but the tenancy agreement had no provisions to do so. The ombudsman viewed the letting agent was responsible for paying the rent until the end of the agreement and ordered a £1,144 payment.

The landlord also complained about damage and other end of tenancy costs like redecoration, replacing a damaged fridge freezer and pre-paid meter arrears that came to £780.

The letting agent denied responsibility but failed to provide any supporting documentation. The ombudsman awarded the full £780 as compensation, plus £200 for ‘avoidable aggravation’ caused by the letting agent.

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