New figures have revealed a sudden spike in the number of renters with a deposit dispute– with the overall numbers of tenants complaining about their letting agents almost doubling in a year.
Figures released in the annual report of The Property Redress Scheme – one of three government-licensed tenancy deposit dispute service providers–show complaints rising by 40% in a single year.
Objections about traditional rent deposit schemes are the second-most-common complaint – making up 27% of the overall total.
Letting Agent Fees – set to be banned in England and Wales under new legislation announced in June’s Queen’s Speech – were the least complained about issue, making up just 6% of the total number of complaints.
The PRS attributes the overall growth in complaints to an “upward trend in consumer awareness of the complaint process”.
Research from deposit reform campaigner Ajay Jagota of Dlighted in 2014 revealed that only 1 in 200 tenants were aware of the existence of a tenancy dispute service.
An investigation from Citizen’s Advice also uncovered that one in five letting agents had not joined a PRS, Property Ombusdman or OSP tenancy dispute service more than six months after it became mandatory.
The scheme compels letting agents to join one of three government-licensed independent bodies to whom tenants, landlords and leaseholders can take complaints relating to a tenancy.
The three schemes assess the complaints and can award compensation where appropriate – with the PRS last year awarding a total of £152,819 of compensation to in the region of 400 complainants.
Renting reform campaigner Ajay Jagota, founder of deposit-free renting solution Dlighted, responded to the figures.
“A recent Parliament briefing document makes it clear that change is in the air when it comes to renting in the UK, noting as it does that the current tenancy deposit system is open to loopholes and abuse.
“The Property Redress Scheme figures suggest that the government’s priorities for reforming renting may not be the same as Britain’s renters however – with tenants almost five times more likely to complain about deposits than they are about letting agent’s fees
“It’s reassuring to hear the PRS believes the tidal wave of complaints it has experienced this year – a significant number of which relate to the out-dated tenancy deposit system- are at least in part due to increasing awareness about redress schemes, not least as research we carried out in the early days of the schemes suggested 99.5% of renters were unaware of their existence.
“I’m sure things are much-improved from the days when it was easy to find firms who simply hadn’t joined these supposedly mandatory schemes with five minutes on Google.”
Dlighted offers an alternative to a traditional DPS by means of a deposit replacement insurance, offering rent guarantee, legal support and £500,000 of asset protection, and which is regulated by the FCA.