What you need to do if you're a letting agent or property manager who holds client money.
Client money protection scheme membership and transparency requirements
Under the Client Money Protection Schemes for Property Agents (Requirement to Belong to a Scheme etc.) Regulations 2019, letting agents and property managers who hold client money must belong to a government approved Client Money Protection scheme (CMP scheme).
Membership of a CMP scheme means that landlords and tenants can be confident their money is safe once they pay it to the agent.
If, for example, the agent goes into administration, the CMP scheme will compensate clients.
Who needs to join a CMP Scheme
You must be a member of an approved or designated CMP Scheme if you hold client money and:
- engage in letting agency work that relates to housing in England
- engage in property management work that relates to housing in England
What client money is
Client money is money you get as an agent during your letting or property management work, and hold it for another person, for example a landlord client or tenant.
Client money is any money that doesn't belong to you as a letting agent or property manager.
Examples of client money include:
- holding deposit
- money paid to the property agent for repairs and maintenance work
- utility payments
It doesn't matter how long you hold client money for. You must comply with the regulations and belong to a CMP Scheme, even if the money goes into your bank account and comes back out again in a couple of minutes.
If you do not hold client money, you do not need to join a CMP scheme.
The tenancy deposit:
- is considered client money in the period between the tenant paying it to the agent, and the agent registering it with the authorised deposit scheme
- is not considered client money once it's protected by an authorised tenancy deposit scheme
See our section on tenancy deposit protection for more information.
What you need to do to comply with the regulations
If you're a letting agent or property manager, your work relates to housing in England and you hold client money, you must:
- belong to a government approved CMP Scheme (regulation 3)
- be transparent about your membership (regulation 4), so that a client:
- knows which CMP Scheme you're a member of, and
- is told of any changes to your membership
Join an approved or designated CMP scheme
There are currently six approved CMP schemes for letting agents and property managers:
Be transparent about your membership (regulation 4)
You must provide evidence of, or information about, your membership of a CMP Scheme.
If the CMP scheme gives a certificate of membership, you must:
- display your certificate of membership in your premises, where clients can see it
- publish the certificate on your website
- give a copy of the certificate, free of charge, to anyone who may reasonably require it
- tell your clients in writing if there are any changes to your membership within 14 days of the change, for example if you join a different scheme or your membership is revoked
- give your clients the name and address of any new scheme you join
See our section on publication requirements for a further duty to publish the details of which CMP Scheme you belong to, in your premises and online.
If you don't comply with the regulations
If you need to belong to a CMP scheme and you don't, you could get a financial penalty of up to £30,000.
If you don't comply with any of the transparency requirements, you could get a financial penalty of up to £5,000.
You're not sure if you need to join a CMP scheme
If you're not sure whether you need to be a member of a CMP scheme, contact:
- your local authority trading standards service
- your professional body or trade association
- an independent legal adviser