Estate agent complaints rise due to introduction of Hips
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by Kay Mitchell
During 2007, there was a significant rise in complaints about estate agents. Figures from the Ombudsman for Estate Agents (OEA) said 870 complaints were received last year.
A report shows a rise of 45% compared with the number of complaints received in 2006.
Ombudsman, Christopher Hamer, said the majority of disputes I receive are the result of failings by agents’ administration, such as the organising of viewings or in maintaining the security of keys to a property being marketed, rather than any suggestion of malicious intent.
The Ombudsman detailed up to 12,344 UK estate agency branches were covered by the scheme at the end of 2007.
The increase in complaints, however, could be attributed to the 60% increase in membership of the OEA following the launch of home information packs (Hips) in August 2007.
The much talked about Government scheme was finally rolled-out to include all properties on December 14.
Mr Hamer said his report is the first report which covers a full year with me as ombudsman. He took up the post in December 2006 and is only the third ombudsman since the scheme started.
Mr Hamer continued there is generally much more focus now on consumer redress, led in the residential property field by the OEA for 18 years.
Following the introduction of Hips last August, every residential estate agent in England and Wales was obliged to have redress in place for its Hips activities, bringing a massive increase in membership to the OEA. Consequently, this has resulted in the increase in complaints.
The OEA is one of three schemes bidding for approved status from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to offer redress to consumers with Hip related grievances.
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