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How technology could reduce complaints against letting agents

Effective use of technology and automation could help to reduce the number of consumer complaints against letting agents.

The recent publication of The Property Ombudsman’s (TPO) annual report revealed that letting agents were ordered to pay 51% more in awards to consumers during 2016 than in 2015.

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, communication and record keeping are among the top causes of complaints against letting agents, and it is in these areas that technology could help firms become more efficient.

The finding that many agents have fallen down in these areas broadly tallies with our own data and market experience.

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.

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.

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.

In addition, 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.

We’ve always believed that, when properly embraced, technology makes one’s job easier, it doesn’t get rid of it. For example, by automating administration, you can reclaim more of your time, allowing you to devote more to your business. In short, PropTech is the future!


Neil Cobbold

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