London ball

The unprofessionalism of the real estate sector at its highest in London

All real estate agents and professionals who perform real estate, leasing and property management work in the real estate industry have a legal responsibility to adhere to an authorized recourse system.

The Property Redress Scheme is a consumer redress scheme, authorized by the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agents Team to provide redress to property, letting and property management.

The latest PRS industry snapshot has revealed that while the number of members hit with evictions has fallen steadily every year since peaking in 2018, London remains home to the highest level of members evicted, both year last and since 2016.

As an impartial body, the PRS reviews consumer complaints about a variety of ownership issues against these industry professionals. When its members fail to resolve the issues raised against them and pay the fines imposed as a result, the Property Redress Scheme can take further steps to expel them from the scheme.

PRS figures show that in terms of the total number of expulsions, this negative industry trend peaked in 2018 with as many as 66 members expelled from the scheme in a single year, up 313% from to the previous year.

However, since then that number has slowly declined and in 2021, 45 members were expelled, a 32% reduction from the peak in 2018. So far in 2022, 20 members have been expelled for not addressing anti-consumer practices.

As for the most offending areas, London is home to by far the highest level of expelled members of the PRS. Since 2016, the capital has accounted for 49% of all expelled members to date, climbing to 50% in 2021 alone.

Since 2016, the North West has seen the second highest number of expelled members of the PRS, accounting for 14% of the total figure, with the South East ranking third with 9%.

Northern Ireland has seen the lowest level of expelled members since 2016, accounting for 0.4% of the overall total and just 2% in 2021.

Scotland, Wales and the South West saw no members at risk of eviction last year and also rank among the lowest since 2016, along with Yorkshire and the Humber.

Sean Hooker, Property Redress Scheme Remedies Manager, says: “The Property Redress Scheme plays a vital role in upholding industry standards and ensuring that the consumer receives the service and professionalism they deserve in an industry that is otherwise largely unregulated.

“Unfortunately, we continue to see a number of members not complying with our decisions, usually because they are not paying compensation, but it could also be due to bad practices such as violation of rights of consumers, failure to meet their contractual obligations, or failing to adhere to codes of practice, which is simply not acceptable these days.

“The regime has the power to expel members who do not play ball, but also to report agents who breach their legal obligations to national trading standards, who can take enforcement action if necessary. Expelled members will also likely end up by being named and shamed in the media.

“The good news is that the number of members facing eviction has been declining for a few years now, however, there are definitely some areas that rank above the others when it comes to worst offences. This is our mission to raise industry standards and to level the playing field for consumers across the country and while we are moving in the right direction, we will not rest until this is fully achieved.