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Estate agents forced to make record customer compensation payouts

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Estate and letting agents were instructed to make payouts to disgruntled customers worth around £2.17m in 2018 by the Property Ombudsman.

This is a sharp rise from the £1.36m estate agents paid out last year.

The largest single payout from an estate agent came to £25,000, while the largest payout from a letting agent totalled £16,291.

In its annual report, the Ombudsman revealed it had seen a 22% jump in enquiries from consumers, up past the 29,000 mark.

In total it dealt with 4,246 complaints, up by 16% from 2017.

Communication and record keeping were the most common reason for a complaint against an estate agent, followed by marketing and advertising, and terms of business.

With letting agents communication and record keeping was also the biggest issue, though this was followed by management problems.

Katrine Sporle, the ombudsman, noted that she was particularly concerned at the “rising number of complaints from consumers faced with demands to pay two commission fees following the sale of their house.”

However, she argued that the ombudsman’s increased workload was not necessarily a result of agents’ standards slipping, but rather that people were more aware of their rights “particularly off the back of the Government’s consultation into strengthening redress in the housing market, and subsequent media publicity on the future of consumer protection and driving out poor practice in the industry”.

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