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Latest TPO annual report reveals 29% rise in enquiries despite global pandemic

- 39,285 enquiries in 2020 (up 29% on 2019)
- Online portal played significant role receiving nearly half of all enquiries (17,359)
- 5,122 cases accepted (up just 0.3% on 2019)
- 12% more cases resolved by the Ombudsman
- £1.9 million in awards
- Just 19 agents excluded for non-compliance

Despite understandably lower enquiry levels in the first half of the year due to the pandemic, The Property Ombudsman (TPO) 2020 annual report reveals a significant uplift in the last two quarters as everyone seemingly settled into a ‘new normal’.

Even though the sector experienced variability throughout 2020, enquiries increased year-on-year with a record 39,285 reported, up 29% on 2019. TPO’s self-service portal played a significant role receiving 17,359 enquiries alone, nearly half of all initial contact to TPO.

Over 34,000 enquiries were resolved at first contact through effective advice, guidance and signposting, and 5,122 enquiries were accepted as complaints by TPO, a rise of only 0.3%.

Cases accepted did not increase noticeably, as in previous years, but the number of cases resolved by TPO grew by 12%, reflecting an increase in casework (4,181 cases). Of these, 2,907 cases were supported by the Ombudsman and 2,473 financial awards were made totalling £1.9 million, down 13% on 2019.

TPO dealt with 2,737 complaints relating to lettings, 1,656 relating to sales, 1,194 for residential leasehold management (RLM) and 120 for other property professionals. The biggest awards were £20,838 (lettings), £24,139 (sales) and £10,642 (RLM), and the average awards were £612, £653 and £339 respectively.

Once again, the top causes of complaints were management for lettings, communication and record keeping for sales, and complaints handling overtook best practice as the top cause for RLM.

TPO recorded a 99% compliance rate with awards in 2020, with just 40 referrals made to TPO’s Compliance Committee, 34% fewer than in 2019. Only 19 agents were excluded for non-payment of awards.

Lettings statistical highlights:

• 69% of complaints were supported by the Ombudsman
• 55% of complaints were made by landlords, while 43% were made by tenants (2% received by other)
• The top causes of complaints were: (1) management, (2) communication and record keeping, (3) instructions and terms of business, (4) complaints handling

Sales statistical highlights:

• 65% of complaints were supported by the Ombudsman
• 68% of complaints were made by sellers, while 30% were made by buyers (2% received by other)
• The top causes of complaints were: (1) communication & record keeping, (2) instructions/terms of business/commission/termination, (3) marketing & advertising, (4) complaints handling

The full annual report is available in PDF [here] and all case summaries are available on the TPO website.



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