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Letting agent complaints soar


By Simon Thompson
 
     
Growing numbers of people are filing complaints about their letting agent as awareness of their rights to redress become better known, according to new figures.
The Property Redress Scheme (PRS) adds that complaints are also growing against estate agents and property management companies.
All letting agents must be members of a consumer redress scheme - an obligation that came in last October - and the PRS says that complaints are increasing monthly.

Letting agents cannot ‘shirk responsibilities’

The PRS' head of redress, Shaun Hooker, said: “The schemes mean that letting agents can no longer shirk responsibilities in addressing client dissatisfaction.
“Some complainants have found that by informing their letting agent that they've been in touch with the PRS has prompted the agent to address the raised issues.”
He added that it was 'great' to see the public becoming increasingly aware of their rights for redress with letting agents.
PRS is one of three official schemes that provide reasonable and fair resolutions for disputes between property agents and the public.

Top complaints for letting agents

The organisation says that of the complaints being made about letting agents, 41% were from tenants and 44% from landlords.
The top three reasons for making a complaint via a redress scheme were for excessive or unfair fees, 21%, the non-return of a tenant's deposit, 18%, and for lack of service and communication, 18%.
PRS points out that they do not accept every complaint because consumers have to make a formal complaint with the letting agent concerned. Other complaints are declined because there may be ongoing court action involving both sides.
One reason for the growth in complaints that tenants are aware now they can claim compensation from a letting agent.
Failure to sign up with a redress scheme, can see a letting agent being prosecuted by their local trading standards department and being fined up to £5,000.

HMRC landlord crackdown leads to huge tax haul

Meanwhile, a well-publicised clampdown on landlords evading tax has led to a surge in receipts, says HM Revenue and Customs.
The taxman's coffers grew by £136 million in the last financial year after investigations into capital gains tax under payments by landlords.
This is a 24% rise on the previous year’s tax take.
With soaring property prices, HMRC believes that landlords are either understating their capital gains or bending the rules to avoid paying tax. They also believe that thousands of landlords are unaware that they are liable for a tax bill.
The clampdown looks likely to continue because HMRC says that only 500,000 taxpayers are currently registered as owning second properties though the taxman believes that the actual number of landlords in the UK is closer to 1.5 million.
 
 
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