20 October 2014
The SAFEagent scheme has now launched to the public, with a major endorsement from housing minister Grant Shapps.
The endorsement includes displaying the kitemark on the CLG website, whilst Shapps has congratulated the industry for taking matte
In them, both tenants and landlords are specifically advised that they should seek out a SAFEagent member.
Shapps emphasised that he is supporting initiatives such as SAFEagent in preference to regulating the private rented sector.
SAFEagent, which has drawn registrations from over 1,200 agents, is also supported by Shelter, NUS, Trading Standards Institute, Council of Mortgage Lenders, Residential Landlords Association, The Property Ombudsman Scheme and the British Property Federation.
Noticeably, however, ARLA and NAEA plus RICS have not thrown their weight behind the initiative, which is being administered by NALS.
Instead, ARLA yesterday reacted with fury to Shapps' latest announcement that he would not be bringing in regulation.
Shapps, however, has taken no convincing regarding the merits of the SAFEagent scheme. He said it was aimed at addressing a key area of concern for both tenants and landlords when it came to letting agents - making sure their money is safe.
Shapps said: "The private rented sector provides a valuable source of accommodation for over three million people in England, and the vast majority of them are happy with the service they receive.
"That's why I have promised not to wrap the sector in red tape, but instead to work with the industry to help them develop their own plans to tackle those bad landlords, and with councils to throw the book at those who don't live up to their responsibilities."
He added that with SAFEagent he was "delighted the lettings industry has taken matters into its own hands, and is launching a quality standard that will ensure that landlords and tenants know what to expect from their members. These improvements could never be achieved by adding layers of pointless Government regulations."
He went on: "This is exactly the sort of measure the private rented sector needs - simple and sensible changes that are driven by industry and designed to deliver results."
Shapps had this message for lettings agents not signed up to the scheme, saying: "I would urge them to do so immediately, so they are not left behind when consumers vote with their feet."
Nick Cooper, managing director of Northwood and chairman of the SAFEagent steering group, said: "We want SAFEagent to become a recognised kitemark that every reputable letting agent signs up to. We would welcome the opportunity to work with all organisations with an interest in the private rented sector."
The new CLG factsheets are available online and are designed to strengthen tenants' and landlords' awareness of their rights and responsibilities.
Shapps said that too often, unnecessary disputes between those renting and letting a property are caused by misunderstandings that could be prevented by having access to better information on the rights and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords.