SAFEagent Awareness Week 2015 (June 1st – June 5th) will see over 3,000 professional lettings agents unite across the UK for what will be the 4th annual initiative that looks to drive awareness amongst consumers of the importance of choosing a lettings and management agent who is part of a Client Money Protection (CMP) Scheme.
The timing is auspicious because, from 27 May 2015, all lettings and management firms will be required to display their fees and charges to landlords and tenants as well as displaying whether or not they are part of a CMP Scheme.
Agents, consumer bodies (Citizens Advice Bureaux, The Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services:Property, My Deposits, TDS and DPS) and the wider property community traditionally support this campaign, both on and off-line. The Government has also given its support to SAFEagent Awareness Week since its launch in 2011. Suppliers to the sector such as Endsleigh and Imfuna also offer their backing to the SAFEagent campaign.
Tenant and landlord financial protection remains in the media spotlight in 2015 in the wake of a few high profile instances of where lettings agents misused funds. However, despite this, SAFEagent feels that the message is still not getting through that consumers’ finances are at risk if their chosen agent does not subscribe to a CMP scheme.
‘There are still too many people who are not aware of the potential pitfalls of choosing an agent who is not part of a CMP Scheme”, says John Midgley, Chair of the SAFEagent Steering Group.
Midgely maintains that whilst awareness of the SAFEagent mark is increasing, consumers are not always aware of the fact that if an agent were to abscond with a landlord or tenant’s money without CMP in place – there would be little chance of retrieving those funds. And, as a result – consumers are still not always asking the right questions at the outset.
He says: “Whilst the last few years have seen the Government move to tighten regulations around letting agents, it is also important that tenants and landlords understand that the right to independent redress only goes so far and does not offer financial recompense should an agent misappropriate clients money. Landlords and tenants need to choose wisely by asking a few simple questions of their agent. It will make all the difference”.
“As it stands we welcome the requirement for all agents to display whether or not they are part of a CMP scheme but we want to see inclusion in such a scheme a mandatory requirement for all agents.”
Tenants and landlords / consumers are encouraged to go on-line and check out www.safeagents.co.uk to find an agent in their area and the advice is to always look for the SAFEagent mark, an easily identifiable consumer mark denoting agents subscribed to a Client Money Protection (CMP) Scheme.