John Midgley, Chair of the SAFEagent campaign, is calling on the industry to be transparent about client money protection pay outs:
“We’ve long campaigned for mandatory client money protection (CMP), but we believe that for Government to really take the scale of the problem seriously, we need to be talking about just how much money has been paid out by the industry where there has been theft or fraudulent use of clients’ money.
“To really get to the nub of the problem, SAFEagent is calling on all industry bodies who operate CMP schemes and the Tenancy Deposit Schemes to collectively reveal how much they have paid out in claims over the past five years.
“Too often the cases don’t receive significant press coverage because claimants are reimbursed. However, if we are ever going to convince Government to act, these are meaningful statistics that we need, and which have been missing up until now.
“The Government has resisted making inclusion under a CMP scheme mandatory on the grounds that it over-burdens agents with an additional cost but without this, consumers’ money is at risk. What about the firms who have already voluntarily taken on paying to be part of a CMP scheme and demonstrated their commitment to the consumer?
“Let’s get this out in the open. It’s time for all sector organisations to work together under one banner to show Government how much is being lost and just why mandatory CMP is so important.”
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 Citizens Advice Bureaux, The Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services:Property, the Property Redress Scheme, My Deposits, TDS and DPS as well as industry suppliers such as Endsleigh.
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.
SAFEagent Awareness Week 2016 is from 6 to 10 June.