Archive for March, 2017
Government has today announced measures to make Client Money Protection (CMP) mandatory for all letting agents across England. The announcement comes in response to ARLA Propertymark’s long running campaign to ensure that tenants and landlords receive greater protection. The move follows steps towards regulation taken in Scotland and Wales.
This is an argument we have been making for some time alongside Baroness Hayter and Lord Palmer. Working together we have managed to convince the Government of the merit of compulsory CMP. It’s a campaign that’s taken over two years to come to fruition and is a clear step forward towards a more regulated industry; akin to others such as solicitors or travel agents. CMP safeguards landlords and tenants in the event that agents misappropriate their money. With the ban on letting agent fees on the horizon, this is more important than ever before, so we are very pleased the Government has agreed to take it forward.
Baroness Hayter, a Labour peer who has championed the measure said:
“The working group, chaired by Lord Palmer and myself, looked carefully at whether CMP should be mandatory for all agents handling client money. The evidence was overwhelming, and we recommended the government use its reserve powers to implement this. We are therefore delighted that the Government has accepted our recommendation as it will ensure tenants and landlords alike are provided with extra security in the lettings process. May I also extend special thanks to ARLA Propertymark for its role in marshalling the industry to back the measure and for providing the working group with real ‘on the ground’ evidence for why mandatory CMP is so desperately needed.”
Government have today confirmed that new measures to crack down on rogue landlords will come into force on 6 April.
Those of you who have attended a recent ARLA Propertymark Regional meeting will be aware of the new measures, which include powers to prosecute and impose significant fines or issue civil notices with penalties of up to £30,000.
ARLA Propertymark has long called for greater enforcement activity in order to end poor housing provision. The new measures will effectively mean that income raised from these penalties will be ring-fenced for further enforcement activity.
While we are pleased that the government have been persuaded by our arguments, the responsibility now falls to local authorities to use the tools at their disposal to raise standards.
Local Authorities will also be able to receive details from deposit protection schemes to build a picture of the rental market in their area. We hope this will reduce the number of local authority licensing schemes which are seen by many as having have been brought in to try to map the private rented sector within their locality.
Whilst the Department for Communities and Local Government are enacting legislation to root-out rogue landlords and agents, HM Treasury has today published their response to the recent consultation on the 4th Money Laundering Directive, stating their intention not to regulate lettings activity.
Section 6.2 of the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 Consultation response states:
While it should be noted that the majority of respondents to the consultation supported the inclusion of letting agents within the regime, intelligence and evidence was not provided to justify the inclusion of lettings activity and the attendant costs of this proposal for those affected. The government will only “gold plate” where there is good evidence that a material ML/TF risk exists. In line with the directive, lettings agents will continue to be within the scope of the regulations where they carry out estate agency work in accordance with section one of the Estate Agents Act 1979 (as amended). However, the application of the Money Laundering Regulations will not be extended to include lettings activity.
ARLA is disappointed the Government has chosen not to include lettings activity within the Money Laundering Regulations 2017. The risk is that money laundering activity will transfer from the sales sector, due to the increased powers within the new regulation, into the lettings sector which remains unregulated.
However, within the context of the recently increased legislative burden on letting agents, coupled with the shock announcement to ban letting agent fees in the Autumn Statement, we understand why the Government has chosen not to impose these requirements at this critical juncture.