SAFE – Safe Agent Fully Endorsed – is a mark denoting firms that protect landlords and tenants money through client money protection schemes.
There are several schemes in the sector operated by ARLA, the Law Society, NALS, RICS and UKALA to which agents voluntarily belong. These schemes are run by recognised industry bodies or organisations operating in the private rented sector to provide accreditation and/or regulation. They are completely independent from the letting agent and they don’t act on behalf of, or have a duty of care to the participating firm. The scope of their CMP schemes varies and you can contact your agent to find out which scheme they are part of.
Landlords and tenants often make decisions based on cost but it is important to ensure you ask your agent for details of the organisation they are regulated by and whether or not they are covered by a Client Money Protection Scheme. All agents who are part of ARLA/NAEA, the Law Society, NALS, RICS and UKALA maintain and operate separate designated client accounts where your money is held completely separate from the operating funds of the firm. Ask your agent if they are part of a CMP scheme or not. They must display this information in their office and on their website.
A CMP Scheme protects client money held by an agent i.e rent and in the unlikely event that there were any unprotected deposits. It is important to know that CMP schemes are entirely separate to the statutory Tenancy Deposit Schemes about which you can find more information here
In the unlikely event that an agent was to misappropriate clients money and they are part of a CMP scheme, then you can go to that scheme to recover your funds.