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What are the requirements for client money protection?

As is the case with all government approved schemes, there are certain nuances and requirements that agents must adhere to when using client money protection. It is not as simple as just purchasing membership and away you go.

 

There are both prerequisites and rules you must follow after you have joined a client money protection scheme. Failure to do so, could result in you being kicked out of your current scheme or fines from Trading Standards, even though you have the correct protection in place. This guide will help you understand the requirements for client money protection so you can avoid this happening to you.

 

1. Have a segregated client account in place before 1 April 2021

Some agents may already have client money protection but not have a segregated client account. This is because, although it has always been a requirement for client money protection, a grace period was granted by the Government, because some agents were having issues opening co-mingled or pooled segregated client accounts with the banks. A breakthrough was made in the autumn last year and the deadline for agents to comply is 1 April 2021.

 

If you do not have a segregated client account by the deadline you will fall foul of the legislation, and in all likelihood be removed from your client money protection scheme.

 

To be a member of Client Money Protect we require a letter from your FCA authorised bank or building society to confirm you have a segregated client account, and that the bank is also covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

 

2. Display your certificate in all of your offices and on your website

When you join a client money protection scheme, you will be given a certificate of membership. This certificate must be displayed prominently in ALL of your offices AND on your website. You must also provide it to anyone who asks, free of charge.

 

We cannot stress enough how important this is, because even if you are a member of a scheme, failure to display your certificate correctly could result in penalty fines of up to £5000 from the Trading Standards authority.

 

At Client Money Protect, our scheme rules also require you to display our window sticker in your offices and our logo on your website, but this is for your advantage. By doing so, you are showing your landlords and tenants that you are a fully compliant agent and that their money is protected.

 

3. Be a member of a government authorised consumer redress scheme

It is a legal requirement for estate agents and letting agents to be a member of a government approved consumer redress scheme.

 

Client Money Protect is part of the Hamilton Fraser family, which also runs one of the government approved consumer redress schemes, the Property Redress Scheme. Because of this relationship,  exclusive discounts are available to members of Client Money Protect.  For more information on products specifically for letting agents please contact businessdevelopment@hamiltonfraser.co.uk to find out more.

 

4. Have adequate professional indemnity insurance

Agents sometimes get confused between client money protection and professional indemnity insurance. Simply put, client money protection protects your customers’ money, while professional indemnity insurance protects you financially from claims made against you by your customers.

 

Most client money protection schemes will require you to have professional indemnity insurance before becoming a member and this is the case with Client Money Protect.

 

5. Protect your deposits in a government approved scheme

It is a legal requirement to protect tenancy deposits in a government approved scheme. As Client Money Protect also protects deposits that are held by the agent against misappropriation, you are required to protect these deposits as per the legislative requirements.

 

mydeposits (one of the three government approved schemes) is also part of the Hamilton Fraser family, and their members may be entitled to exclusive discounts. You should contact businessdevelopment@hamiltonfraser.co.uk to find out more.

 

6. Make sure you adhere to your scheme’s rules

Finally, it is important to check your own scheme’s rules to make sure you are complying with them. Whilst the different schemes will have rules that are required by the Government, each scheme may have slightly different rules, unique to them.

 

Members of Client Money Protect can find our scheme rules here.

 

Of course, we also recommend you familiarise yourself with the legislation, which can be found here.

 

For more information on Client Money Protect visit: clientmoneyprotect.co.uk

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