Property complaints soar 40% in first half of 2014

by Communications Team | Sep 19, 2014

  • Consumer complaints in first half of 2014 rise 40 per cent from 2013
  • Homebuyers hit hardest with surveys and home valuations most common complaints
  • Customer service remains a big concern for homebuyers and renters

Complaints made to Ombudsman Services: Property were at their highest ever levels for the first half of 2014, up 40 per cent compared to the same period in 2013.

The figures relate to complaints made to independent dispute resolution provider, Ombudsman Services, which handles complaints made against surveyors, estate agents, residential management firms, letting agents and valuers.

Complaints have continued to rise steadily since the beginning of the year with nearly 514 cases being reviewed up until 31 June 2014 compared to 369 cases during the same period last year (January-June 2013).[1] The number of complaints made during the last six months also outstrips the number made in the final half of 2013 (July-December 2013) at 395, making it Ombudsman Services’ busiest six month period on record.

The figures also show that complaints made in the month of July were the highest on record for a single month (140) - 28 per cent higher than the second highest month for complaints (March 2014).[2]

Unsurprisingly, the recent house-buying boom lead to a spike in complaints related to the process of buying a house, with surveys and valuations accounting for 42 per cent of all grievances recorded by Ombudsman Services. Many of these complaints concerned building defects, while bad experiences with residential managing agents also ranked highly, particularly when it comes to customer service.

From 1 October 2014, new legislation will mean that all agents in England must be signed up with an approved scheme or risked being fined £5,000.

Chief Ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith commented: “With rising housing and rental costs hitting people’s pockets, it’s little surprise that people want value and quality service for their money. Buying a house is one of the biggest purchases most people will make during their lifetime so it’s understandable that they want the process to be as trouble-free as possible, but unfortunately that doesn’t always happen.

“It’s imperative that the sector takes this on board and improves the way it handles complaints. Making it mandatory for all UK agents to be signed up to an approved ADR scheme such as Ombudsman Services will ensure there is an alternative route for consumers who become locked in a dispute for eight weeks or longer.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

  • Ombudsman Services is a not for profit, private company limited by guarantee. 
  • Ombudsman Services is a national, private sector ombudsman scheme which provides independent dispute resolution for the communications, energy, property, copyright licensing sectors, the Green Deal, the ABFA, Reallymoving.com and Which? Trusted Traders scheme.
  • The Chief Ombudsman’s speech about the future of Ombudsman Services in a changing consumer redress landscape can be accessed here
  • Ombudsman Services provides an expert dispute resolution service. The service focuses on encouraging early agreed resolution wherever possible and does not charge a fee so it’s able to offer access to redress for consumers to resolve their complaints without proceeding to the civil courts.
  • Ombudsman Services is a full member of the Ombudsman Association (OA) and adheres to its principles.
  • Further information about Ombudsman Services can be found at www.ombudsman-services.org

 

Month

Count of ITOR's

Month

Count of ITOR's

Jan-13

67

Jan-14

81

Feb-13

47

Feb-14

85

Mar-13

59

Mar-14

109

Apr-13

56

Apr-14

87

May-13

76

May-14

86

Jun-13

64

Jun-14

66

Jul-13

72

Jul-14

140

Aug-13

53

Aug-14

 

Sep-13

64

Sep-14

 

Oct-13

76

Oct-14

 

Nov-13

70

Nov-14

 

Dec-13

60

Dec-14

 

2013 Total

764

2014 Total

654

 

[1] Source: Ombudsman Services. See above table, which shows 514 complaints for January-June 2014, and 369 for January-June 2013. This is a difference of 39.2 per cent.

[2] The above table shows that July is by far the month with the highest number of complaints, ahead of March 2014. The difference between the two sets of figures (109 &140) is 28 per cent.