Letting agents are uniting for the second national SAFEagent Awareness Week to remind consumers of the importance of choosing a letting agent which offers Client Money Protection.
Tenant protection has returned to the media spotlight in light of the recent 11th hour amendment to theEnterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, making it mandatory for letting agents to belong to an ombudsman scheme, thereby giving landlords and tenants access to approved redress schemes.
However, the message from SAFEagent is that consumers’ finances are still at risk if the agent does not subscribe to a Client Money Protection Scheme.
John Midgley, chair of the SAFEagent steering group said: “While we applaud the Government’s recent move to tighten the regulation of letting agents, giving tenants and landlords the right to seek redress only goes so far. Let’s not forget that the recent changes to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill do not cover Client Money Protection, which means that if an agent were to abscond with a landlord or tenant’s money, they wouldn’t stand much chance of getting it back.
“To this end, the aim of SAFEagent remains true – to raise awareness among consumers of the importance of choosing an agent who is part of a Client Money Protection scheme. By working together as an industry we can achieve this and we urge all letting agents committed to professional standards and consumer protection to sign up to the SAFEagent campaign.”
More than 2,000 letting agents have now signed up to the SAFEagent campaign to signpost their commitment to protecting landlords’ and tenants’ finances. The Government has shown its support since its launch in September 2011.
Housing Minister Mark Prisk said: “Most tenants are happy with their letting agent, but a minority of rogue agents provide an unacceptably poor service, giving the whole industry a bad name. That’s why we will shortly introduce proposals that will require agents across the country to join approved redress schemes, giving landlords and tenants a clear route to resolve complaints.
“The industry-led SAFEagent campaign is also helping to raise awareness, giving landlords and tenants the confidence that their agent will protect them. I hope this SAFEagent Awareness Week will help many more landlords and tenants make a safe, informed choice.”
Key organizations in the industry including Citizens Advice Bureaux, Shelter, Ombudsman Services: Property, The Property Ombudsman, DPS, TDS, my|deposits and Trading Standards Institute have all allied themselves to the campaign. Key suppliers to the sector are also standing behind the campaign – for example, HomeLet, Imfuna and CFPwinMan have led the way in pledging their backing to it.