A new Property Agents Act is needed after the number of enquiries concerning lettings issues received by The Property Ombudsman in the past year was almost double the number of enquiries concerning sales.
The new 2015 Interim Report from Christopher Hamer revealed that no fewer than 9,141 consumers contacted the scheme regarding property issues, an eight per cent increase on the previous year.
More than half of all the enquiries received were regarding lettings issues with 5,303 enquiries logged – the equivalent of 58 per cent of all contacts. This was nearly double the sales enquiries which represented 30 per cent.
As his nine-year term in office draws to a close, Mr Hamer said he has experienced fundamental changes to agent obligations throughout the property sector, but he believes current provisions do not go far enough in ensuring openness, disclosure and consistency for agents, tenants and landlords alike.
He said: “It is well recognised that the availability of decent property to rent, the need to ensure transparency of information for consumers and lessening financial risk for landlords and tenants are all very important, and it seems to me that this scattering of legislation does not assist in achieving the aims of openness, disclosure and consistency for agents, tenants and landlords alike.
“What is needed is a Property Agents Act. This would update the Estate Agents Act 1979 to reflect developments in the sale market (such as the growth of purely on-line agents, the role of portals and ‘passive’ intermediaries) and most relevantly now to bring lettings into a precise framework where all agent activity is covered by one piece of legislation.”
His report revealed a total of 1,587 complaints, up 34 per cent on the previous year, were resolved covering sales, lettings and other jurisdictions between 1 January and 30 June 2015.
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