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‘Safe’ letting about more than just money

The appeal comes as official statistics show that home ownership is in decline and more people are turning to the private rented sector for their homes.

In support of the campaign, letting specialist Leaders is urging all tenants and landlords to look for the SAFEagent logo, an easily identifiable mark to immediately see that their money is protected.

Leaders’ Technical & Compliance Director, Carole Charge said: "Having set standards of best practice in lettings over the last 29 years, we are well recognised within the industry for our financial probity and are pleased to be members of SAFEagent and to promote SAFEagent Awareness Week.

"However, we would also like the public to be aware that being a trustworthy letting agent is about more than just protecting clients’ money. A letting agent should also be experienced, knowledgeable and competent to let and manage property with a thorough understanding of the complex legislation surrounding letting."

Leaders points out that last year the Government confirmed it had no plans to regulate letting agents and therefore landlords and tenants needed to be wary when choosing their letting agent. The firm argues that the protection of client money is not the only issue.

Charge said: "As well protecting its clients’ money, you also need to be sure that your agent will let the property safely, comply with all the legislation and protect your interests as a landlord or tenant during your tenancy. Getting it wrong can have dire consequences for landlords, including huge legal expenses, loss of rent, financial penalties and even custodial sentences for not complying with legislation. For tenants it can literally be a matter of life and death if legislation regarding the safety of the property and its contents is not complied with, for example gas, electrical and fire safety regulations.

"Being a SAFEagent does not in itself guarantee an agent’s competence, which is why our advice to landlords and tenants is to only use an agent with many years experience, a good reputation, client money protection and above all, membership of a professional body such as ARLA, NAEA or RICS. These organisations are self-regulating and ensure that member agents comply with a rigorous code of conduct."

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