All property agents and professionals that carry out estate, lettings and property management work in the property industry have a legal responsibility to join an authorised redress scheme.
The Property Redress Scheme is a consumer redress scheme, authorised by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agent Team to provide redress for estate, lettings and property management agents.
The latest industry insight from the PRS has revealed that while the number of members hit with expulsion has declined steadily each year since a peak in 2018, London remains home to the highest level of expelled members, both in the last year and since 2016.
As an impartial body, the PRS considers consumer complaints about a variety of property-related issues made against these industry professionals. When its members fail to address the issues raised against them and pay the fines issued as a result, the Property Redress Scheme can take further steps to expel them from the scheme.
The figures from the PRS show that when it comes to the total number of expulsions, this negative industry trend peaked in 2018 with no less than 66 members being expelled from the scheme in a single year, up 313 per cent on the previous year.
However, since then this number has been in slow decline and in 2021, 45 members were expelled, a -32 per cent reduction from the 2018 peak. So far in 2022, 20 members have faced expulsion for failing to address anti-consumer practices.
When it comes to the worst offending regions, London is home to by far the highest level of expelled PRS members. Since 2016, the capital has accounted for 49 per cent of all expelled members to date, climbing to 50 per cent when looking at 2021 alone.
Since 2016, the North West has seen the second-largest level of members expelled from the PRS, accounting for 14 per cent of the total figure, with the South East ranking third with nine per cent.
Northern Ireland has seen the lowest level of expelled members since 2016, accounting for 0.4 per cent of the overall total and just two per cent in 2021.
Scotland, Wales and the South West saw no members facing expulsion last year and also rank amongst the lowest since 2016, along with Yorkshire and the Humber.
Sean Hooker, Head of Redress at the Property Redress Scheme, says: “The Property Redress Scheme plays a vital role in upholding industry standards and ensuring the consumer is provided with the service and professionalism they deserve in a sector that is otherwise largely unregulated.
"Unfortunately we continue to see a number of members failing to comply with our decisions, usually due to them not paying a compensation award, however, it could also be down to poor practices such as a violation of consumer rights, not fulfilling their contractual obligations or failing to operate within the codes of practice, and this simply is not acceptable in this day and age.
"The Scheme 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 as and when necessary. Expelled members are likely to also end up being named and shamed in the media.
"The good news is that the number of members facing expulsion has been in decline for some years now, however, there are certainly some regions that rank above the rest when it comes to the worst offending. It’s our mission to raise the standards of the industry and to level the playing field for consumers across the nation and while we’re heading in the right direction, we won’t rest until this is fully achieved.”