The Government has authorised two more firms to provide Client Money Protection (CMP) schemes for letting agents.
From April 1, it is expected to become mandatory for all letting agents and property managers in England to be a member of an approved CMP scheme or face fines and sanctions for non-compliance.
The latest firms to receive authorisation are Money Shield and the National Approved Lettings Scheme.
They join Hamilton Fraser group company Client Money Protect and UKALA.
Money Shield is owned jointly by Propertymark and The Dispute Service and is offered to non ARLA Propertymark members, meaning agents can sign up without having to join the trade body.
It is administered by Propertymark and operated in association with The Property Ombudsman (TPO).
The Money Shield Scheme will cost agents £400 per year.
NALS, a long-time campaigner for mandatory CMP and provider of such as scheme for its members, has also been authorised.
Users of its scheme will have to join NALS.
NALS members get a range of benefits such as a legal helpline, competitive insurance rates and legislative updates.
Signing up involves a £50 plus VAT administration fee and an annual subscription of £145 plus VAT for a single office. Each additional office pays £81, which is inclusive of VAT.
Its annual CMP rates start at £350 plus VAT for firms holding up to £500,000, then £560 for those holding between £500,001 to £1m and £950 plus VAT for amounts of more than £1m.
Isobel Thomson, chief executive of NALS, said: “We’re delighted to have been approved. NALS is a tried and tested CMP scheme, and this means we’re able to continue our work in ensuring a safer private rented sector for consumers.
“While it’s great news that CMP will become a legal requirement from 1 April, it is only one of the elements that make up a professional lettings and management firm. We don’t believe that being part of a CMP scheme should just be a case of buying an off the shelf product to comply with the regulations.
“Any agent coming under our CMP scheme will have to be part of NALS so we can ensure consumers are obtaining the best possible service in all areas and high standards are maintained.”