This week’s SAFEAgent awareness week aimed at improving consumer awareness has received enormous support.
The SAFE scheme was set up last year by letting agents and has so far attracted a membership of 2,000. All SAFE agents must belong to one of the membership bodies and, in addition, must have Client Money Protection insurance.
The SAFEagent awareness week which runs until Monday is designed to steer landlords and tenants in the direction of agents showing the SAFE logo, and to warn them of the dangers of using an agent without Client Money Protection. Last month, a firm of letting agents in Canterbury without the insurance collapsed owing over £400,000 and the liquidators have warned landlords and tenants they are unlikely to see their money again.
Citizens Advice has now included SAFEagent information in its new ‘Paying the Rent’ toolkit, an internal resource for its advisers. It means that CAB advisers are encouraged to recommend SAFEagent to members of the public.
Citizens Advice housing policy officer Geoff Fimister said: “Citizens Advice has long called for regulation of letting agents, but this is not on the horizon at present. As an important step in the right direction, though, we support the SAFEagent scheme.”
The British Property Federation has issued a warning that most landlords who use a letting agent are probably unaware whether any money they handle is protected by a Client Money Protection scheme.
Ian Fletcher, director of policy at the British Property Federation, said: “A simple message is often the most effective, and in this case it couldn’t be simpler: if you don’t use a SAFEagent your money could be at risk.
“Landlords often use an agent to take away the stress and hassle of managing their property, or because they are trying to do it from afar. Anyone can set up a letting agency, however, and it doesn’t take long for them to be handling significant sums of rent, deposits and other payments.
“The cheapest agent might appear attractive, but landlords should examine whether that is because their agent is cutting corners and not offering the protections that a SAFEagent will offer.”
The week’s campaign had its official launch at the House of Commons, hosted by MP Charles Walker.
Any landlord who still needs convincing can see the event here: