Property Industry Eye recently reported that Government is planning to review a number of aspects of lettings agent compliance.
Agents are required, among other things, to be transparent about their fees, membership of redress schemes, and whether they offer client money protection.
The Government has previously resisted making client money protection mandatory on the grounds that it over-burdens agents with an additional cost, but the drive towards mandatory CMP has been championed by Baroness Hayter, and she has confirmed that she will re-introduce it in the near future.
John Midgley, Chair of SAFEagent commented on this news:
“SAFEagent welcomes the Government’s commitment to review transparency on whether or not an agent is part of a CMP Scheme but to protect consumers we want it to become mandatory for all agents to belong to such a Scheme.
We believe this will give increased confidence in the lettings sector for consumers by ensuring that they do not experience financial loss if they should have the misfortune to interact with a rogue agent or a business that simply fails.
At a time of negativity about the private rented sector in the media, mandatory client money protection is a simple form of consumer reassurance and a safety net if things go wrong”.
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 Government, Citizens Advice Bureaux, The Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services:Property, the Property Redress Scheme, My Deposits, TDS and DPS.
All agents registered with SAFEagent are part of regulatory organisations/accreditation schemes in the Private Rented Sector and Client Money Protection Schemes which reimburse consumers in the event of misappropriation of clients’ funds. There are several schemes in the sector operated by NALS, ARLA, the Law Society, RICS and UKALA 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; Foxtons; Touchstone; Winkworth; Hunters, Spicerhaart, Sequence, Connells, Countrywide, Leaders and Savills.