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Keeping lettings complaints down

by ARPM

Britain is a nation of complainers and it’s no different in the lettings industry.

People will use all channels available to moan and whinge. One call handling centre representing over 24,000 different businesses saw calls of a complaint nature treble in a recent five year period, while social media has given consumers a platform from which to instantly vent to a wide audience. When consumers really get riled, however, they often head to an official dispute resolution service.

With the prospect of damages or compensation at the end – and an already maligned reputation – it’s no surprise that complaints about letting agents to The Property Ombudsman (TPO) have risen to record levels – up 22% annually.

Landlords complain more than tenants

The most complaints were in lettings, with 2,757 resolved, 66% supported by TPO and £1.5m paid in redress. Surprisingly – and against a backdrop of rising and more visible tenants’ rights – landlords actually made the most complaints (54%), with 42% coming from tenants. Surely, now more than ever, it is important for letting agents to be pleasing landlords, not pushing them to take issue?

As well as financial implications (it’s worth noting that the highest single financial award in lettings by TPO was £16,291) and brand damage as a result of bad-mouthing, official complaints suggest that an agent’s service levels or compliance is off target – costing them client loyalty and leaving them exposed to legal breaches. TPO revealed that the most common lettings complaints were communication and record keeping, management, tenancy agreements, inventories and deposits, and complaint handling.

Minimising complaints in lettings

The above screams a lack of time, resources and knowledge. Lettings isn’t a business to be taken lightly – a quick fix or slapdash approach is tantamount to shooting yourself in the foot. There needs to be meticulous attention to detail, diligence and a nurturing of relationships, both on the tenant and landlord side. This all takes time and when there’s a battle between record keeping and signing up a new landlord, it’s often the immediate revenue generator that wins and the existing business or the mundane is neglected.

Some agents may be accustomed to the revenue that property management brings or they may be banking on it to ride out the Tenant Fee Ban but complaints may cost an agent their business. By all means divert your in-branch resources to new pipelines, prospects and hot leads but ensure you have a back office team who is keeping clients happy and lets compliant.

Talk to ARPM today about outsourced tenancy administration, rent collect and full property management. With the right resources you can put a cap on complaints, and forge an excellent reputation in order to keep clients and attract new business.

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