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A university had to take on extra staff to deal with complaints about a landlord who stole deposits on student housing.
Detectives claim 18 theft charges admitted by Tariq Zaman, 42, at Leeds Crown Court were just a ‘representative view’ of the money he stole over several years letting houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) owned by him and his family in the city.
Zaman allegedly stole so many deposits that Leeds University student helplines were flooded with complaints and needed extra workers to keep pace with his crimes.
The landlord was jailed for 46 weeks, suspended for two years, ordered to carry out 150 hours of community work and must pay £3,500 costs for stealing around £5,000.
The court heard students renting shared houses paid upfront deposits of up to £200 each for Zaman to hold in case of rent arrears or damage to the properties. When the tenancies ended, instead of returning the cash, Zaman kept the money without any good reason.
Several students obtained court judgments against him, but Zaman ignored them.
Judge Penelope Belcher told Zaman: “These were mean minded offences, targeting young vulnerable students. It had a broad impact on the student letting market, the desirability of Leeds as a destination for students if it were to be known that people like you were not returning deposits.”
Outside the court after the verdict, Detective Constable Jo Hind, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “Zaman stole from his student tenants by withholding their deposits without any reasonable grounds.
“The offences he has pleaded guilty to cover eight years, but are representative of a wider picture. His practice of keeping deposits without any legal basis was on such a scale that the Leeds University Student Advice Centre took on extra staff to deal with the number of complaints they were receiving.
“We hope that Zaman’s conviction for these offences will serve as a reminder to unscrupulous landlords who think they can exploit their tenants for financial gain.”
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