9:05 AM, 20th October 2016, About 6 years ago 5
If you ever did business with any of the following agents you will now be regretting having ever met them.
Belgravia Property Group, Carlton Residential, Park Lane Residential Ltd and Mayfair Residential were all fake agencies operating from serviced offices in London, Birmingham and Bristol.
The scam affected both landlords and tenants.
With a rental demand booming properties get snapped up extremely quickly due to demand, especially when they are advertised bills inclusive it would seem. As the age old adage goes though “if it looks too good to be true it probably is”. However, the offering was difficult for desperate tenants to resist and with posh offices, men and women in suits and glossy brochures why would they think anything was wrong?. The properties were real, as were the landlords who owned them. The fraud was to take fees to reference tenants and then tell them they didn’t qualify. However, if the tenants paid 6 months rent up front they would be accepted.
As you might guess, the rents were never passed on to the landlords and the utility bills were never paid. The agencies would then vanish over night leaving the landlords and tenants to sort out the mess.
Following a joint investigation by trading standards officers, the police and a local authority, the prosecutions resulted in Adam Coote being sentenced to 28 months in prison; Andrew Rickard received 18 months in prison and Sahila Kauser was also sentenced to an 18 month custodial sentence suspended for two years, with 140 hours unpaid work and a 12 month supervision order. They all used an alias in business to pull off their scams.
The Landlords Union said that both landlords and tenants can easily avoid scams like this by carrying out just two simple checks.
There are many examples of landlords having been victims of fraud by abuse of position committed by their letting agent where Police and CPS have dropped cases due to lack of resource.
We have seen many cases where agents have used client money to pay themselves significant bonuses before putting their businesses into liquidation. As a result of the Police failing to get involved the Landlords Union has been helping to raise the funding necessary to mount private criminal prosecutions on behalf of our members.
Landlords Union pay all initial costs associated with private criminal prosecutions where groups of 15 or more of our members have been victims of crimes perpetrated by the same business. The Crown picks up legal costs once Magistrates agree that a trial is in the interests of the public, regardless of whether the accused is found innocent or guilty. We are happy to take on victims of crime as new members in order to justify taking a case.