Sunday, October 04, 2009

Complaints against letting agents are at an all time high, reports the Observer

Note - the Landlord Law Blog has now moved to


Letting agents are supposed to be the experts in lettings. Many are excellent. Unfortunately however, there are a lot of 'cowboys' about. The growing level of dissatisfaction with many agents is made very clear by an excellent article in the Cash section of the Observer today, which states that a number of surveys show increased levels of complaints from tenants regarding incompetent landlords and (in particular) letting agents.

The Property Ombudsman's figures show that in July there were a record 1446 complaints about private lettings, more than 110 per week, and since summer 2008 there has been 44% increase in complaints about lettings. Which, as many people fight shy of making official complaints about problems, indicates that the real level dissatisfaction is far higher. Particularly as, unfortunately, it is not compulsory for agents to belong to a scheme such as his, or indeed any scheme.

The CAB reports that 73% of tenants were unhappy with their letting agent. Top complaints with them are the time taken to carry out essential reports, and additional charges levied, e.g. for referencing and renewals. Shelter also report a big increase in complaints, particularly regarding the return of tenancy deposits.

Surely it is time for letting agents to be regulated? Or at the very least, be required to be a member of the Property Ombudsman scheme.

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Anonymous said...

Surely the number of complaints is bound to rise as more agents become members of the Ombudsman scheme? I'm not saying there are not 'cowboys' around and that agents shouldn't be regulated, but these figures do distort the number of complaints received against the number of agents there are.
And of course tenants will complain about referencing and renewal fees, no-one likes paying out money. But it is hardly a reflection on an agents service!
Yet again I fear this is another case of the media knocking down an industry that on the whole works very hard. I've just done a quick survey of my office and 73% were unhappy with service we received in Tescos - doubt it'll make an article in the Observer!
Sorry for the bias comment (I'm a letting agent) but get frustrated with the slagging we continually get from the National press!
Great blog by the way!

David said...

Cynically I presume the CAB figures are as accurate as their claim about tenant deposits? My understanding was that the high 70% of tenants said they were happy with their private sector landlord, higher than in the social sector.

Also interesting to see that tenants are finding the deposit protection legislation causes a delay for the return of their deposit, everything has a price.

Tessa Shepperson said...

I agree that the most letting agents work very hard and provide a good service - as always it is the few who don't who tarnish the reputation of all the others.

The CAB of course only hear one side of the story as (on the whole) only unhappy tenants are going to speak to them.

As regards deposit delays, looking at things from the tenants point of view, all they ever wanted was to have their deposit returned (it is their money after all) subject to any reasonable deductions, and some may think it unfair that they are suffering delays becuase of a system which was set up to prevent landlord fraud!

beetle said...

My experience of 3 Lettings agents in a row for the same property in Cheltenham, is that everyone of them has behaved in a dishonest manner, from leaving the property in a mess, To refunding the deposit despite the level of repairs needed after a tenant has moved out to simply not fullfilling their contractual agreement.

On other properties I manage by myself I have 2 long term tenants & one tenancy occupied by Polish renters which is now changing occupants withe tenants being refunded their deposit in full as the property is in better condition then before they moved in & the new tenant will now be the 4th Polich National in a row.

Tessa Shepperson said...

Thank you for that.

It is good to hear that you have had such a good experience with Polish renters, as some landlords appear to be prejudiced against them, but this has always struck me as both unfair and unjust. Your experience shows this to be the case!