PRS annual report 2018 reveals increased awareness of redress and focus on early resolution

The dust had barely settled on the Property Redress Scheme (PRS) annual report when the scheme announced last week that it is celebrating over 11,000 members, a growth of nearly 40 per cent since this time last year.

Sean Hooker, Head of Redress at the PRS comments on the reasons behind the significant increase in PRS membership in the annual report, released last month;

“Our scheme continued to grow steadily in the first three quarters of 2018 and this reflected a still expanding market, better enforcement of the regulations and much higher awareness of the legislation.”

Sean Hooker, Head of Redress at the PRS

All property agents that carry out estate, lettings and property management work must join a government authorised consumer redress scheme. Hooker also highlights the withdrawal of Ombudsman Services – Property, from the market as a source of PRS expansion, as all their current members had to join an alternative scheme in order to remain compliant with the legislation.

“2018 was a fundamental year for the Property Redress Scheme, and this was mirrored in the wider sector, as further developments in the government’s “project” to reform the housing market started to take shape”, Hooker adds.

Despite increased membership leading to a rise in the number of cases handled by the PRS, the annual report highlights earlier contact and informal resolution as the key focus of efforts this year. The objective of this approach, says Hooker, is to reduce complaint times and obtain a high level of satisfaction with the outcomes.

“Our teams really enjoy the hands on nature of early resolution and get a buzz from knowing they have actively helped resolve a dispute.”

– Suzy Hershman Head of Dispute Resolution

Part of the Hamilton Fraser group, the PRS helps to settle, and ultimately resolve, complaints made by consumers against members’ where their own internal complaints procedure has failed to resolve the issue. The PRS annual report for the year 2018 helps to provide an insight into how consumer complaints in the property industry are handled by the scheme.

The report includes details regarding the complaints process and case studies, as well as an expelled member list. In addition, the report details the scheme’s finances and charitable efforts, as well as including an insight into client money protection, after it became mandatory for letting agents in April this year.

 

Key points raised within the report for 2018 include:

  • Rapid membership growth – the PRS saw an increase of 37 per cent in 2018
  • The scheme saw a 103 per cent rise in final decisions being made as well as a 82 per cent rise in proposed decisions being issued in 2018 compared with 2017
  • The average award was £1,102.83 with the total compensation being awarded to consumers by the PRS just shy of £300,000

Within a rapidly evolving private rented sector undergoing extensive legislative change, the PRS provides stability and a means through which to resolve complaints fairly and, ideally, through early resolution.

The report details an increase in the range of complaints being raised, including those relating to:

  • Fees and charges
  • General communication
  • Poor service
  • Poor complaint handling
  • Rent collection

Read the full 2018 report here.

 

Key updates in the industry

The last two years have seen significant change throughout the private rented sector, with the future of the sector also looking likely to face further evolution. Sean Hooker and Lord Monroe Palmer offer their valuable insights into the future of the property industry and upcoming legislation within the report.

Some of the most significant industry changes so far include:

2018

April 2018 – Introduction of banning orders

April 2018 – Minimum energy efficiency standards

October 2018 – Extended HMO landlord licencing

October 2018 – Introduction of minimum bedroom sizes for rental properties

What is in the pipeline? Some major pieces of work are being started in 2019 and will come in to force over the next few years.

2019

March 2019 – Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act

April 2019 – Mandatory Client Money Protection scheme membership

April 2019 – Proposed ban on Section 21 announced

June 2019 – Tenant fee ban introduced  

June 2019 – Cap on security and holding deposits

 

Beyond 2019

There are a number of further changes in store that will likely come into force within the next few years. This includes government pledges to:

Changes to the home buying process have also been considered including:

  • Introducing mandatory electrical safety checks on all rental properties and in addition to extend the requirement for CO monitors in every property (not just those with solid fuel burners)

You can read more about legislative changes and your legal obligations as a landlord here.

 

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