£1.36m paid out after property-related complaints in 2017

Some £1.36 million was handed out to consumers with property-related complaints last year, according to an ombudsman.

The figure was an 11% increase on the previous year and relates to 2,408 instances in which financial awards were made, the Property Ombudsman said.

The redress scheme said there were 3,658 complaints last year, up 3% compared with 2016.

Some 2,165 complaints were about lettings and 1,165 about sales, while 328 related to other matters.

The average award for sales complaints was £532 while the figure for lettings was £625.

Management was generally one of the main drivers behind lettings complaints while communication and record keeping was one of the top causes for sales complaints.

The Property Ombudsman is one of several bodies in the sector.

The Government recently said it is looking into whether the housing sector should have a single ombudsman.

In its annual report, the Property Ombudsman said: "We think there should be a single ombudsman for the private property sector and a single ombudsman for the social sector with clear partnership working between the two."

A recent survey from Ombudsman Services found 69% of consumers found the system for complaining about housing confusing.

Katrine Sporle, Property Ombudsman, said: "We agree with Government that there are gaps in the current provisions of consumer redress within the property sector which need addressing and, together with industry and consumer partners, we are keen to play our part in regulation and redress reform.

"Overall, 2017 represented a positive year of innovation and improvement, which will reassure consumers and the industry that there is an alternative to costly and lengthy court proceedings that can be relied on to provide timely, fair and reasonable remedies."

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