Client Money Protect, a newly branded part of the Hamilton Fraser group of companies, has gained formal government approval to operate a client money protection scheme when the regulations go live on April 1.
Hamilton Fraser already runs redress schemes in the sector – notably, mydeposits for tenancy deposits, and PRS, the Property Redress Scheme, the only current alternative to TPO, the Property Ombudsman scheme.
From April 1, it will 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.
Client Money Protect – whose initials also stand for Client Money Protection – says it will offer a scheme that is fully compliant with the regulations and will feature no inner limits or annual aggregate claim caps meaning every customer of the agent is fully protected should the worst happen and every member of the scheme will have all their client money covered.
Missing deposits that are not protected by an authorised tenancy deposit protection scheme will also be covered as will bank failure up to a certain level. The scheme will be aimed at small to medium sized operators that hold less than £5M client money and prices will start at £350 plus VAT.
Professional indemnity insurance, crime and directors and officers insurance can also be added to the membership thereby offering a complete package of protection for both the letting agent and their clients.
Membership of Client Money Protect is available immediately although it will not be mandatory to join the scheme until April 1.
Eddie Hooker, CEO of Hamilton Fraser, said: “After being fully involved in the consultation and shaping of the Client Money Protection legislation, we’re delighted with the approval.
“As administrators of a CMP scheme since 2014, which enabled agents to join on a voluntary basis, we are proud to have been approved to continue providing CMP under the new legislation. We have worked hard to create a scheme that fully encapsulates the principle of what the government is trying to do by introducing mandatory client money protection. We want to be the gold standard of client money protection schemes.
“In an increasingly regulated industry in which landlords are feeling the strain, this will offer some positive news in landlords’ and tenants’ favour. Tenants’ deposits will remain covered by the deposit protection schemes, but CMP will act as a backstop should there be an issue.”
Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action and brand ambassador for Hamilton Fraser, added: “Having dealt with too many cases where landlords and tenants have fallen victim to rogue letting agents who have misappropriated their money, I have long championed this move for our industry.
“However, the challenge of educating consumers to understand the importance of ensuring their agent holds CMP will continue, but hopefully this will raise awareness and standards.”