The Property Ombudsman (TPO) has published a report showing that the top reason for complaints against letting agencies last year was over poor record-keeping and communication.
This is not a new trend either, with the same reason coming second in the 2017, 2016 and 2015 surveys and first in 2014 and 2013. In 2012 and 2011 the most commonly cited reasons for complaints were poor service and poor complaint handling respectively.
“Communication in particular, as well as record keeping, have for the last eight years been a common cause of consumer complaints against agents,” says Neil Cobbold, Chief Operating Officer of PayProp.
“More worryingly, the problem has worsened since 2015, which means the time has come for the industry to think more carefully about improving communication and record keeping across the board.”
This worrying trend can be easily fixed by adopting modern methods of communication in order to keep clients up to date more efficiently.
“These days, consumers send and expect to receive much of their communications via their smartphones, often outside of traditional working hours,” Cobbold explains.
“The best agencies all step up to meet these needs, providing digital-friendly information that is easy for people to access every step of the way.”
“Of course, the personal element of the lettings process remains hugely important, so agents still need to be available for phone calls and face-to-face meetings where possible,” he says.
In regards to record-keeping, Cobbold adds: “Letting agencies can improve their record keeping by storing everything digitally and using technology solutions for basic administrative tasks to help reduce the margin for human error,” Cobbold adds.
“Being able to see the live status of a portfolio with all the correct and up to date information can help agents to easily provide their clients with a full summary of what is going on, as well as greater visibility.
“This can help landlords and agents to stay on top of all issues and take the necessary steps to manage the tenancy accordingly,” he says.”
Although most agencies receive very few complaints, it is still essential for every business in the industry to identify their most common source of complaints before it becomes a bigger problem.
Efficient record-keeping is a fundamental part of any business, and in a post fees ban-world where the private rental sector is often a target of the media, letting agents should be doing everything they can to prevent further negative press.