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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Shock claim that one-in-five agents still have no Client Money Protection

An estimated 20 per cent of letting agents have still not signed up for a Client Money Protection scheme, six months after membership became mandatory.

The claim comes from Client Money Protect, one of six approved CMP schemes, which is working with the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team to assess the scale of non-compliance.

“We act as the lead enforcement authority for the Tenant Fees Act. The team is working with the approved CMP schemes and local authorities to ensure that agents who are required to belong to a scheme are correctly registered with one of the six approved schemes” explains James Munro, Head of NTSELAT.

“We have arrangements with local authorities to refer cases for enforcement, and a backstop arrangement where we will take action in cases where a local authority cannot. With the support of the schemes, we are also proactively monitoring websites to ensure agents are clearly displaying their membership” he adds.

Client Money Protect says the reputation of the private rented sector, and letting agents in particular, is undermined by a small minority of unscrupulous agents who misappropriate money from their clients. 

It says the industry is relying on reputable agents to educate clients on the fact that they have CMP, why is important to use an agent which has CMP, and how this might help them identify a rogue from a good operator.

Eddie Hooker, the chief executive of Hamilton Fraser, says: “The requirement for all letting and property management agents in the private rented sector in England to join a client money protection scheme has been heavily publicised, agents cannot hide behind ignorance as an excuse for non-compliance.  Those who are not complying with their legal obligations under the Act could face a fine of up to £30,000, so we urge all agents to check that they are covered as a matter of urgency.

“We are currently turning applications around in 48 hours.  If you already have membership, please ensure you are displaying your membership both in branch and on your website as you may also be liable for a £5,000 fine if you fail to do this. We have already taken a phone call from an agent this week who advised us that he had received a letter from NTSELAT. He is a member of Client Money Protect, but had not displayed his logo.”

  • Angus Shield

    It annoys me that with all the recent 'gun to head' compliance to negate rogue agents, local Trading Standards Officers cannot undertake a programme of drop-in visits into business premises to simply view what we have to all lawfully display to the public!
    Am I being too simplistic??

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    I have recently come across two agents who have no CMP. Firstly try getting hold of Trading Standards then when you do they have no idea of the Law and over a week and I have still not heard back! Had this before regarding no membership of a Redress Scheme and that went nowhere. Meanwhile agents who do what they should and pay all the fees accordingly are at a disadvantage. I note TS are sitting at their desks trawling the internet but not getting up to do some physical exercise. I suppose nothing new here. Best book another in-house meeting to discuss this and try to waste another day!!

  • Paul Barrett

    This is all pretty basic stuff.
    Apply for CMP registration and then stick a logo on the shop front window.
    If a LA ISN'T capable of doing that which is required for it to trade then what other things might they not be doing correctly.
    It beggars belief that 20% of an industry is trading illegally!!
    Just the mere fact of facing a £30000 fine for non-compliance you would have thought would have been a motivating factor!?
    Are these fraudster LL doing so well that they can afford to shrug off a £30000 fine!!!??
    Being extremely generous to the 20% I would perhaps suggest that these are the struggling LA who in trying to keep their heads above water have got behind on some important stuff.
    After all there are still LL out there that don't know that deposits have to be protected!!
    So for these miscreant LA for whatever reason they should at least be given a warning and then if still failing to comply should then have the book thrown at them.
    It really cannot be too hard for a TS officer or even the teaboy to get on the phone and ring round the local LA to ascertain their CMP registration number.
    If a stunned silence then to be warned that they need to comply and that if in 1 month they HAVEN'T then legal action will commence against them.
    That should motivate quite a few LA to get their house in order!

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    'If a stunned silence then to be warned that they need to comply and that if in 1 month...….'
    Why a whole month? I think 7 days is more than enough as they have after all had6 months to comply!

     
  • Paul Barrett

    I suppose in being so generous if not having resolved things in 1 month then no leg to stand on!!
    They may have had 6 months already to sort themselves out.
    I believe in going the extra amount to persuade compliance.
    It is always better to persuade compliance than go for prosecutions.
    Prosecution is always expensive.
    Persuasion is cheaper!

  • icon

    Takes more than 7 days to get a reply from Trading Standards ! '-)

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