Mandatory redress schemes ‘not enough’ says deposit campaign

Obliging letting agents to join an ombudsman or other redress scheme may not address issues of financial protection according to the chair of a scheme campaigning to protect client deposits.

John Midgley, chair of SAFEagent, says: “The involvement of the ombudsman will only occur after the horse has bolted. It is trying to operate from the wrong end of the process. And it’s unclear what, if any, teeth ombudsman schemes will have to obtain redress for the customer.”

SAFEagent has been campaigning for three years to highlight to landlords and tenants the need to choose letting agents that offer financial protection through a Client Money Protection scheme.

SAFEagent says that even with the likelihood of the government introducing secondary legislation making it mandatory for letting agents to belong to an ombudsman scheme, this probably will not cover client money protection.

“There is also a danger that criminals operate around the most vulnerable tenants in the sector and these, in my view, are unlikely to make full use of an ombudsman scheme” says Midgley, who is also managing director of the Touchstone property management company.

“There are several organisations operating in the sector – NALS, ARLA, RICS and Safeagent – which are members of client money protection schemes. Anyone wishing to operate correctly should be a member of [such] an approved organisation” he says.

“The government should ensure that local authorities have the resources to seek out and close down unapproved agents rather than putting more burden on those who do operate correctly” explains Midgley.

SAFEagent’s awareness week to highlight its campaign is from May 12 to May 18.

Article courtesy of Letting Agent Today

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