Letting agents must sign up to Client Money Protection scheme

Letting agents must sign up to Client Money Protection scheme

From April 1, all private rented property agents will be required to to sign up to a government-backed scheme protecting renters’ and landlords’ money under new laws.

Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP has brought forward new legislation to strengthen protections for money held by property agents, who can now be fined up to £30,000 if they fail to sign up to the scheme.

In 2017, an estimated £2.7 billion in client funds (tenants’ deposits and landlords’ rental payments) was being held by letting agents, but at present the property owners may not always be able to recover their money if their agent fails to repay it due to misuse by the agent or bankruptcy.

Membership of a Client Money Protection scheme is currently voluntary with approximately 60 per cent of agents signed up.

So far, 5 schemes have been approved. These are CM Protect, UKALA, NALS, ARLA Propertymark and Money Shield. All private sector property agents who hold clients’ money are required to register with one of these schemes ahead of the regulations coming into force on 1 April.

A working group is also considering a new regulatory framework – including a Code of Practice and a proposed independent regulator – and the introduction of mandatory professional qualifications for all property agents.

Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Heather Wheeler MP, said:

"Whilst the vast majority of agents act responsibly, this new law will prevent people from losing their hard-earned cash through no fault of their own. This will give tenants and landlords confidence and peace of mind that their money is in safe hands whilst with their agent."