Effective use of technology and automation could help to reduce the number of consumer complaints against letting agents, according to payment management solution PayProp.
The firm makes the claim following the recent publication of The Property Ombudsman’s (TPO) annual report.
How Technology Could Reduce Complaints Against Letting Agents
The study showed that letting agents were ordered to pay 51% more in awards to consumers during 2016 than the previous year.
What’s more, the number of resolved complaints against letting agents increased during this period, with an average lettings reward of £531.
TPO’s latest report shows that management, and communication and record keeping are two of the top four causes of complaints against letting agents, while PayProp says it is in these areas where technology could help firms become more efficient.
The CEO of PayProp in the UK, Neil Cobbold, confirms: “The finding that many agents have fallen down when it comes to management, record keeping and communication tallies with our own data.”
He believes that in these instances, incorporating streamlined and automated processes could reduce the chances of agents receiving complaints, particularly as there will be a record of all their activity, which is difficult to constitute with paper-based processes.
Cobbold also notes that when it comes to bad record keeping and management, there are two types of agencies – those who make inadvertent mistakes and a small minority who use the lettings industry to break the law intentionally.
He insists that technology can help in both cases: “It can stamp out incorrect handling of some steps, by helping with management, communications and record keeping, and it can also be used to track and trace wrongdoing.
“Although it can’t stop an agent doing anything illegal, it can help provide insurmountable evidence and an indelible audit trail.”
He adds that effective application of technology can raise transparency: “It gives rogue agents less to hide behind and helps to make sure that agents are acting in landlords’ interests.”
The CEO of the up-and-coming proptech provider repeats earlier statements that reservations about technology are unfounded.
“When properly embraced, technology makes one’s job easier, it doesn’t get rid of it,” concludes Cobbold. “For example, by automating administration, you can reclaim more of your time, allowing you to devote more to your business.”