Property organisations nationwide have welcomed the introduction of a new consumer protection kitemark launched by a group of the country’s leading estate agents last week.
Nick Cooper, Chair of the group behind the initiative, said: “We are delighted with the initial response and the overwhelming feeling is that, at last, through the delivery of a simple message, we have the means to differentiate those agents who operate to industry standards with inclusion in a Client Money Protection Scheme and those who don’t. As promised more detail will be released shortly.”
The Property Ombudsman Christopher Hamer said: “As Property Ombudsman I support this initiative. Reducing the number of disputes and disadvantaged consumers must be a prime aim and anything which helps landlords find an agent who is committed to a high standard of service and the protection of client funds has to be seen as positive. For agents it must be an advantage to be able to confirm to the public that they have a secure approach to holding client money.”
Alan Ward, Chair of the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), said: “A clear and recognisable brand will help build confidence with landlords as well as tenants who place large sums of money on trust with professional letting and management agents. It will place the onus on agents operating without CMP to answer the question “why not?”
Peter Rollings, Chief Executive of leading London firm Marsh & Parsons said: “Renting a property can be stressful at the best of times, however, it’s surprising the number of tenants who hand over six weeks deposit, a large sum by most people’s standards to someone they hardly know. Landlords also trust the agent to hand over rent. The new kitemark offers a one stop shop, a sort of ABTA for letting agents, where tenants and landlords can be absolutely sure that nothing can go wrong. It is a great idea which will help clean up the industry and support the consumer and Marsh & Parsons will be supporting it wholeheartedly.”
The new kitemark to be known as SAFEagent will be launched by the end of April. It will be free for agents in established CMP schemes to register with a nominal charge for marketing material. The initial launch of the kitemark will be aimed at agents with a consumer launch in the early summer.