SAFEagent calls for lettings & management firms to have mandatory financial protection

September 5, 2014

SAFEagent is calling upon the Government to take the opportunity, with the passage of the Consumer Rights Bill, to make inclusion under a Client Money Protection (CMP) Scheme a mandatory requirement for all lettings and management agents. CMP schemes offer recompense to tenants and landlords should a firm misappropriate or fraudulently use clients’ money.

The SAFEagent campaign, established in 2011 and now with over 3,000 offices registered was set up by agents for agents to raise consumer awareness of the importance of checking that an agent is part of a recognised CMP scheme. Not only are all agents bearing the SAFEagent logo part of CMP Schemes, they are also part of recognised industry agent organisations who monitor their compliance, offering additional consumer protection.

John Midgley, SAFEagent Chair, said: “With Government continuing to deliver positive measures to improve renting and letting such as mandatory membership of redress schemes, which all SAFEagents are covered by, as well as the recent “How to Rent Guide” for tenants, we are urging them not to miss this opportunity to make it mandatory for agents to provide financial protection for their clients and customers.

“It does not make sense that agents who handle clients’ money on a daily basis do not even have to operate a designated client account or can disappear with the contents of that account with no recompense for the consumer, unless they are part of a CMP Scheme. We understand and support Government’s action on transparency of  letting agents’ fees but it seems incongruous that there should be the narrow focus on this financial aspect of entering into a tenancy but no regard for whether agents have financial protection if something goes wrong.

SAFEagent has written to the Housing Minister and will be urging all SAFEagents to write to their local MPs to ensure this issue moves up the political agenda in the run up to the Election.

Northwood were founding members of SAFEagent and absolutely endorse this call for much needed consumer protection. Eric Walker, Managing Director of Northwood and one of the founders of SAFEagent comments “It is clear that regulation is some way off. This immensely practical requirement will protect the people who really matter and who are often the most vulnerable. This is another example of industry working together and leading the way through the many professional agents who have voluntarily decided to  do something to raise standards and promote consumer protection. Many MP’s call for regulation, but in truth they are the only group who can implement new legislation. Make no mistake,  professional agents want regulation in order to drive out the small minority who give the industry a bad name.”

About SAFEagent

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 CAB, The Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services: Property, The Property Redress Scheme, DPS, TDS, My Deposits, OFT and the Trading Standards Institute as well as industry suppliers such as Endsleigh, Imfuna and CFP Winman.

All agents registered with SAFEagent are part of a Client Money Protection Scheme which reimburses consumers in the event of misappropriation of clients’ funds. There are several schemes in the sector operated by NALS, ARLA, NAEA and RICS 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, Spicerhaart, Sequence, Hunters, Leaders and Countrywide.

To see the full list of SAFEagent members – click HERE

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