16:20 PM, 5th July 2011, About 10 years ago
Around 1,000 letting agents have pledged to offer better protection to landlord and tenant monies by signing up to the SAFEagent scheme.
Letting agents can only join the scheme if the can demonstrate they take special precautions to safeguard client monies.
In return, SAFEagent lets them display the exclusive logo on shop fronts and marketing materials.
SAFEagent is a self-regulated industry scheme launched in response to bad publicity from letting agents who misappropriate client monies either through bad management or dishonesty.
Every year, landlords and tenants lose hundreds of thousands in rents and deposits to rogue letting agents.
SAFEagent kicked off around three months ago as a group of around 10 leading letting agents – now the scheme is open nationwide and other letting agents are flocking to join as support from consumer champions gathers.
Organisations speaking out on behalf of the scheme range from the National Union of Students, Which?, Citizens Advice, Shelter, and the Property Ombudsman to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.
SAFEagent spokesman Nick Cooper said: “Such support boosts our campaign and raises consumer awareness of the need to make an informed choice when using a letting agent to make sure their money is protected.
“We are well on our way to really making a difference for consumers.”
To qualify for membership, a firm has to provide membership details of a client money protection scheme and registration information about any self-regulating trade body.
Property Ombudsman Christopher Hamer said: “I support this initiative. Reducing the number of disputes and disadvantaged consumers must be a prime aim and anything which helps landlords find an agent who is committed to a high standard of service and the protection of client funds has to be seen as positive.
“For agents it must be an advantage to be able to confirm to the public that they have a secure approach to holding client money.”
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