We saw rapid growth in our membership in 2019, and perhaps it is unsurprising that we also saw an increase in the number of complaints. Compared to 2018, the number of complaints increased by over 50%.
Average time taken to resolve complaints
This vast increase in the number of complaints would usually result in stretched resources and slower decisions. However, because we have been focusing on early resolution, we have actually reduced the average time it takes to resolve a complaint, compared to 2018.
With early resolution, our sole focus is to understand the root cause of the complaint and talk, listen and negotiate with both sides. We’ve introduced the early resolution step for every complaint, which allows all parties the chance to settle before needing a formal written decision.
We take time to understand the position, assess the relevant evidence and with our industry knowledge, engage both sides to facilitate a positive outcome for everyone. This greatly reduces resolution times and on average only takes 19 days to reach a resolution, which is, on average, 23 days less than the time it takes for a formal written decision to be made.
This year we awarded a record amount of compensation in total, £616,000, and the average award was £1,200.
In lettings, the top reason for complaints revolved around holding deposits, perhaps as a result of the changes to holding deposits brought in through the Tenant Fees Act.
The Tenant Fees Act 2019 also banned agents from charging fees and tenancy agreements, fees and charges were the second largest cause for complaint in 2019.
General communication was the third largest cause for complaint in lettings, which is why we always promote communication between agents and consumers.
The top reasons for complaints in sales was charges and commissions and misleading or incorrect information.
In residential leasehold management contract tendering and management, maintenance issues and service charge demands and collection, were the most common causes of complaints.
In 2020, we want to help our members through continuing to promote our early resolution service and helping them to reduce the number of complaints they receive themselves. We believe the best way for them to do this is to talk, and to talk to the experts.
Award bandings (all decisions)
Average award: £1,224.81
As you can see the majority of our awards were under £1,000 (80%). Only two awards were over £20,000. The highest award we made was £25,000 and we awarded £616,000 in total.
*awards made during 1 Dec 18 – 30 Nov 19, the complaint may have been started prior to these dates
Average complaint handling time (complaint to closure)
Average complaint time: 42 days
On average we were able to resolve sales complaints (30 days) quicker than residential leasehold management (33 days) and lettings (45 days) complaints. The average time taken to resolve a complaint was 42 days.
Complaints - Lettings
Most common lettings complaints
The most common forms of letting complaints were other miscellaneous issues (including duty of care, inspections etc.). This accounted for 52% of our lettings complaints. The second most common issue involved holding deposits (15%), which is not a surprise following the new holding deposits rules in the Tenant Fees Act.
Complaints - Sales
Most common sales complaints
We received far fewer sales complaints (73) compared to lettings complaints (391). The most common types of sales complaints were misleading/incorrect information (40%) and other, including charges and commission (26%).
Complaints - Residential Letting Management
Most common RLM complaints
We received far fewer residential lettings management (38) complaints when compared to sales (73) and lettings (391). The most common forms of letting complaints were other miscellaneous issues (56%) and service contract tendering/management (40%).