A lettings agent says she has just spent three months trying to get evidence of her Client Money Protection policy - and almost lost a major landlord client as a result of the delay.
Julia Dajani, the owner/director of Elizabeth Scott agency in Epsom, Surrey, switched to UKALA in May; the decision to choose this provider was made on the basis of UKALA’s claim to be the most comprehensive policy on the market.
However, Dajani tried to obtain a copy of the policy - not just for her company’s records but for a large client with 115 properties who wanted it for their own due diligence.
Dasani says she telephoned, emailed, tweeted and formally complained to UKALA from May until this week, when she contacted Letting Agent Today. She has now received a response from UKALA, which has apologised to her for the delay.
However, she says a delay of this kind is unnecessary and unwelcome, and a burden to agents already under pressure.
“At a time when the market is tough for small businesses it is so frustrating when we feel all these organisations are interested in is taking our money and not providing the service we are paying for” Dajani has told Letting Agent Today.
“After completing the application form and sending off six months bank statements I was told in an email that my company had been accepted to UKALA membership but before the documents could be sent out they needed payment on the membership. I paid immediately. The only document I ever received was my certificate of membership but again I had to chase for that. Until yesterday evening [Tuesday August 20] I had received nothing from them,” she continues.
“My biggest client is a company that has given us 115 of their properties to manage. We are the first agent they have ever trusted to fully manage their properties and we are very proud of this. They previously employed an in-house property manager and they dealt with a local agent who actually ended up stealing all of the tenants deposits. CMP is obviously very important to them. They approved our previous policy and just wanted to approve the UKALA one. It's been very stressful trying to get the information from UKALA to be able to prove to this landlord that we are compliant and they are covered.”
Dajani received a response from UKALA after LAT contacted the organisation.
In response to our intervention, here’s is UKALA statement about the issue:
“UKALA is authorised by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to provide a Client Money Protection Scheme, which covers the clients of all UKALA Members.
“The UKALA ‘Total Loss’ client money protection scheme has no limit for individual claims made by our members' clients, so a client suffering a loss can be recompensed on a “total loss” basis.
“The UKALA CMP Scheme offers a guarantee directly to members' clients, in the event of their money being stolen or misappropriated. This is backed by a HISCOX insurance policy in favour of UKALA, and as such this is commercially confidential and not directly relevant to the cover provided to our members' clients. What members purchase as part of their UKALA membership, is membership of the UKALA CMP Scheme, (rather than having their own policy).
“Members can prove to clients that adequate cover is in place, by directing their clients to the following;
“Government approval of our scheme from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, which verifies that the Ministry have evaluated the scheme and found it to meet all the regulatory requirements. https://www.gov.uk/client-money-protection-scheme-property-agents
“The UKALA CMP Guarantee, which confirms the level of cover to your clients. Please note there are no inner limits per landlord claim (as other schemes have) so a client suffering a loss can be recompensed on a ‘total loss’ basis https://www.ukala.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/UKALA-CMP-Guarantee.pdf
“The Policy Schedule, which shows the level of insurance cover which UKALA have purchased from HISCOX, to back up the CMP Scheme https://www.ukala.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/CMP_UKALA_Certificate-of-InsuranceMay2019v2-002.pdf
“The UKALA Member directory, so clients can verify that agents are current members https://www.ukala.org.uk/“