Complaints against estate agents at record high

The property market is cooling - and so is our relationship with estate agents it seems. Despite there being fewer transactions than normal last year, complaints about estate agents were up.

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According to figures released today, a record number of complaints were made against estate agents last year. Property ombudsman Christopher Hamer said he had received 1,338 new cases – the most since the scheme was set up two decades ago.

Those living in the South East were the most likely to complain - with the area accounting for 26 per cent of the total.

As anyone who has ever bought or sold a property will know, one of the biggest problems is communication between the chain, so perhaps it's no surprise that the biggest cause for complaint was poor communication between estate agent and client.

Christopher Hamer said: "Many agents conduct their business by following the code of practice but there are still too many who are operating without that commitment to standards and without any external controls over what they do with client money.

"Whilst the Code of Practice is not intended to be a substitute for formal regulation it would at least mean all letting agents would be following a comprehensive set of standards designed to protect the consumer.

Although many letting agents belong to an ombudsman scheme on a voluntary basis, they is no requirement by law for them to do so - something which Mr Hamer is calling on the Government to change.

What do you think? Should there be better protection for tenants and landlords against rogue letting agents? Leave a comment below...