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Three quarters of PSRA complaints are 'vexatious'

26 Sep 2018 / property Print

Three quarters of PSRA complaints 'vexatious'

A whopping 1205 of all complaints received by the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PRSA) since its inception in July 2012 have been knocked back as vexatious or frivolous and did not require further investigation, its annual report reveals.

The Authority ascribes this relatively high number of wrongful complaints to the difference between the “perception of wrongdoing” and the definition of improper conduct in Section 2 of the Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011.

The PSRA refusal to investigate was appealed 18 times during 2017 with the appeal disallowed and the Authority’s decision upheld in 99 per cent of cases. One appeal was submitted for reconsideration.

Of 329 complaints submitted in 2017, 21 were withdrawn, there was one informal settlement, 55 are at inspection stage, five are under assessment, two are at draft report stage, one at end of investigation, two are under appeal and 242 cases are concluded.

The PRSA is charged with control, supervision and regulation of property service providers such as auctioneers, letting and management agents. There were 64,590 lease details on its books at year-end compared with 52,704 in 2016.

PSRA chair solicitor Geraldine Clarke (pictured above) said that of the 656 compliance audits carried out last year, almost 70 per cent were in order. Cautions and warning were issued in 29 per cent of probes.

The Authority’s compensation fund against dishonest licensees stands at €3.1 million and its monies have now been fully insured. Thirty-three claimants were issued a total of €198,337 during the calendar year. There are 16 claims decisions pending and two have been refused.

Due to staffing constraints, the PRSA has outsourced compliance probes. A recruitment competition for regulatory inspectors helped address arrears in complaints handling.

The PRSA had 23 full-time staff by year-end and was granted permission to hire a further six this year.

In 2017 the authority issued 466 new licences to work in the property services sector. A total of 5,219 licences was renewed last year while 379 licensees did not renew. There was a slight increase in the number of licence refusals last year to 46 from 34 in 2016.

Refused

First-time licence applications were refused on various grounds including insufficient educational qualifications, incomplete accountants’ reports and the lack of a tax clearance certificate.

A total of 87 new licence applications were refused last year, compared with 110 on each of the preceding two years.

Unlicensed property service provision is an offence under section 28 of the 2011 Act and During 2017, the Authority received 329 complaints, a 15 per cent increase on the 285 complaints received in 2016.

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