In what we see as a very positive move forwards, the Government has announced an open consultation into making client money protection mandatory for lettings agents.
Depending on the responses, mandatory CMP could be added into the Housing and Planning Act 2016.
Currently, under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, letting agents are requirement to display in their offices and on their websites their fees; whether or not they are part of a CMP scheme; and which redress scheme they belong to.
The initiative is being supported by Baroness Hayter, Labour, who co-signed the consultation document along with Housing Minister Gavin Barwell.
The consultation asks 17 questions, including asking for information on CMP, whether it should be mandatory and if so, would it affect rents.
The consultation runs for six weeks and is set to close on the 3rd October 2016.
John Midgley, chair of the SAFEagent Steering Group, said:
“We very much welcome the Government’s review. Clearly, the SAFEagent campaign has given impetus to Government reviewing this issue. Quite simply, the industry wants it, and all members of licensing, professional and trade bodies already have it.
“It’s worth adding that cost is not an issue here. The Government should recognise that the cost of CMP is a small price to pay by an agent who genuinely wants to protect their clients and consumers”.
SAFEagent would like to thank the working party for their commitment to this, and also urges anyone with an interest to submit their comments.
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.