Good news for prospective tenants and landlords! After a series of high profile media cases where unscrupulous letting agents have absconded with clients money, a new industry-led initiative, SAFEagent, launches this week (3 September) to protect consumers.
Created “by agents for agents in the industry”*, and supported by the Government, SAFEAgent will consist of a campaign and kitemark that will give consumers looking to rent or let a property, the ability to instantly spot an approved letting agent, and be more confident of a quality and secure service.
Would-be tenants should look for the SAFEagent registered mark, which in its first month of operation, already has over 1,000 registrations by professional lettings agents across the UK. It is expected that many more will follow fast in order to reflect the consumer protection those who are part of Client Money Protection Schemes can offer.
The mark is easily recognisable to consumers and is expected to become a major national bench-mark as awareness builds across the general public.
In addition to securing Government support, key organisations with an interest in the sector such as Shelter, NUS, Trading Standards Institute, Council of Mortgage Lenders, Residential Landlords Association, The Property Ombudsman Scheme and the British Property Federation have all allied themselves to the SAFEagent campaign in the interests of raising consumer protection across the lettings market.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps MP said:
“I’m delighted the lettings industry has taken matters into their own hands and is launching a quality standard that will ensure that landlords and tenants know what to expect from their members. These improvements could never be achieved by adding layers of pointless Government regulations, which is why I will continue to resist any measure that could wrap the rental market in red tape.
“Instead this is exactly the sort of measure the private rented sector needs – simple and sensible changes that are driven by industry and designed to deliver results. If there are any lettings agents who haven’t already signed up to SAFEAgent, I would urge them to do so immediately so they’re not left behind when consumers vote with their feet.”
Nick Cooper, Managing Director, Northwood and Chair of the SAFEagent Steering Group concluded:
“We want every person who is looking to rent a property to ‘play it safe’ and be aware that they CAN protect their money. The message is simple – be safe…choose a SAFEagent when you rent. Remember, your money may be at risk if you do not use an agent that is part of a client money protection scheme.”
For more information on SAFEagent, or check out a SAFEagent nearest to you, please visit www.safeagents.co.uk.
– Ends –
Notes to Editors
SAFEagent – Safe Agent Fully Endorsed – is a reliable mark denoting firms that protect landlords and tenants money through Client Money Protection schemes. Set up ‘by the industry, for the industry’ and recognised by the Government, it is supported by Shelter, NUS, Trading Standards Institute, Council of Mortgage Lenders, Residential Landlords Association, The Property Ombudsman Scheme and the British Property Federation.
All agents registered with SAFEagent are part of a Client Money Protection Scheme which reimburses consumers in the event of misappropriation of clients’ funds. There are several schemes in the sector operated by NALS, ARLA, NAEA and RICS to which agents voluntarily belong. The scope of these schemes varies and consumers should contact their agent for full details of the scheme of which they are a part.
The SAFEagent steering group comprises:
Northwood; Belvoir; Bushells; Foxtons; Touchstone; Winkworth; Young London.
How to register for SAFEagent
Registration is very simple. Simply download a form from www.safeagents.co.uk or contact 0845 519 7992 for more information. Details a firm will need to provide include:
• Name of the Client Money Protection (CMP) scheme the firm is signed up to
• The renewal date for the Scheme
• Confirmation of the industry organisation the firm is part of and annual renewal date
Firms will be asked to meet the Terms and Conditions of the SAFE mark. The SAFE mark will be available for use by all agents in CMP schemes. It will be free for agents to register and a nominal charge of £50 for a single office firm for marketing material**. Multi-site firms will pay an additional £10 per office.
** The SAFE marketing pack will include a certificate, window stickers, window cards, template press release, leaflets and other marketing material.
SAFEagent Press Information:
Please Caroline Hole-Jones at The Splash Partnership: 01225 318 000.