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Property firms pay £300k in compensation – including £25k by one estate agent

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Just under £300,000 was awarded in compensation to consumers as a result of rulings by the Property Redress Scheme in 2018.

In one case a letting agent was ordered to hand over £25,000 – the maximum amount the organisation can award – as a result of being to blame for “considerable rent arrears”, as well as the costs of a bridging loan which had to be taken out in order to cover the shortfall.

However, the scheme noted in its annual report that on average compensation payments were worth £1,103.

Across the year 269 proposed decisions and 77 final decisions were issued, an increase of 82 per cent and 103 per cent respectively.

Misleading information top cause

All estate, letting and management agents are required by law to join a redress scheme. Membership of the Property Redress Scheme received a boost last year after Ombudsman Services – Property announced it would be pulling out of the sector. As a result almost 11,000 offices are now members.

With estate agents, misleading or incorrect information was the top cause for complaints, accounting for 11 per cent of issues, just ahead of general communication at 10 per cent. Unfair contract terms was the third most common issue (six per cent).

For letting agents, breach of duty of care was the biggest problem, representing 11 per cent of complaints. This was followed by poor service and complaint handling (10 per cent), issues with general communication (eight per cent), and fees and charges (also eight per cent).

Sean Hooker, head of redress at the Property Redress Scheme, said: “Last year was a fundamental year for the Property Redress Scheme, and this was mirrored in the wider sector, as further developments in the government’s project to reform the housing market started to take shape.”

Earlier this month the Property Ombudsman announced it had ordered agents to pay record levels of fines in 2018.

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