10:46 AM, 7th September 2011, About 12 years ago
Housing Minister Grant Shapps has urged letting agents to join a new money protection scheme for landlords and tenants.
Timing his support with the public launch of SafeAgent, the move is seen as massive support for the fight against rogue letting agents and a snub for the established Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).
SafeAgent is an industry administered scheme aimed at safeguarding rents and deposits by more than 1,200 letting agents across the UK.
The scheme is a response to regular bad business management and even fraud by rogue letting agents who fail to protect client cash.
The Communities and Local Government department is backing the scheme by displaying the logo on the official government website and urging landlords and tenants to use the SafeAgent scheme in new advice leaflets.
The minister said: “The private rented sector provides a valuable source of accommodation for over 3 million people in England, and the vast majority of them are happy with the service they receive. “That’s why I have promised not to wrap the sector in red tape, but instead to work with the industry to help them develop their own plans to tackle those bad landlords, and with councils to throw the book at those who don’t live up to their responsibilities.”
SafeAgent is backed by Shelter, the National Union of Students, the Trading Standards Institute, Council of Mortgage Lenders, Residential Landlords Association, The Property Ombudsman Scheme and the British Property Federation.
ARLA, which runs a rival scheme, does not have the same extensive support and has not yet endorsed the SafeAgent scheme.
“This is exactly the sort of measure the private rented sector needs – simple and sensible changes that are driven by industry and designed to deliver results,” said Shapps. “I would urge letting agents who have not signed up to do so immediately, so they are not left behind when consumers vote with their feet.”
ARLA has criticised the minister for failing to regulate the lettings industry.