Estate agents still most complained about business

Complaints against property sales agents last year reached their highest point since the Property Ombudsman scheme first came into force, twenty years ago, as they reached a total of 1,350 for 2010. This is nearly 30% more than the previous highest, 2 years prior to that.

Christopher Hamer, the ombudsman, commenting, said that the figure was unacceptable. The figure is forty percent more than he had originally predicted, despite the number of overall property sales transactions being comparatively very low. Mr Hamer added that, given the economic climate, when people spent large sums of money, they were more likely to complain about poor service.

The biggest number of complaints centred around a lack of communication (16%), followed by the agents’ own handling of a complaint (12%), then issues over marketing, advertising and details of sales (10%). The South East was the worst area for complaints (26%), then the South West (13%) and the East (12%).

The Property Ombudsman service is completely free to the public. The role of the Ombudsman is to resolve disputes between the public and agents who are either members of the scheme or have registered with the scheme through the Office of Fair Trading. The new address for the Ombudsman as of the 7 April will be Milford House, 43-55 Milford Street, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP1 2BP.