Letting Agent goes bust

by Readers Question

4 years ago

Letting Agent goes bust

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Letting Agent goes bust

Within the last 2 weeks another Letting Agent operating for approx 7 years has gone into receivership. Tenant deposits had not been protected, some landlords had not been paid for at least 7 months and apparently all the money has disappeared!! Letting Agent goes bust

They must have ‘managed’ over 200 properties, a fair amount of bond money and rents taken… Action Fraud reluctant to help….. Why should the owners of this company get away with defrauding hundreds of people?

I co-own an agency in the surrounding area and feel so strongly that the government should do something to stop this happening again in the future. How unprofessional letting agents can set up business without client bank accounts and bond protection is beyond me!! I am calling on all professionals in the industry to make a stance and force legislation for the better!!

Do you agree?

Kim Wilson



Comments

Mark Alexander

4 years ago

Hi Kim

I am a non-exec Director of a barrister's chambers. One of my roles is to oversee their website and for that reason I know lot more than the average layman about this subject.

A crime HAS been committed here. It is called "Fraud by abuse of position".

I would like to work with you to help all of those affected to obtain justice. There is less than a 0.2% chance that the Police will do so according to recent statistics unearthed by the Evening Standard Newspaper!

Please take a look at the articles on the Cotswold Barristers website which I have linked below:-

Police failing businesses who are victims to fraud >>> https://www.cotswoldbarristers.co.uk/police-failing-businesses-victims-fraud/

Letting Agent Gone Out Of Business? >>> https://www.cotswoldbarristers.co.uk/letting-agent-gone-bankrupt/

Private Criminal Prosecutions >>> https://www.cotswoldbarristers.co.uk/private-criminal-prosecutions/

It sounds like you might not be directly affected yourself. HOWEVER, there could be a massive PR opportunity in this for you if you can help those affected to seek justice with minimal cost. Have you considered tracking down a few of those affected and helping them to start an action group? If that many people were to have a whip around (say £100 a head) they could soon raise enough money to fund a private investigation into the personal assets of the directors and Counsels initial advice. As the case would be a criminal matter, Counsel would be paid for all other work whether the defendants are eventually found to be innocent or guilty by a Jury.

Once you have a few on board and Counsel has been instructed your local press will no doubt take an interest. This will help to spread the word in your local area and attract more victims. I am happy for Property118 to be used as an information sharing conduit.

So the good news is that legislation already exists to help. It's just a pity that more people aren't aware of it.
.

Mark Alexander

4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "27/09/2014 - 10:13":

PS - you have my permission to post the name and address of this letting agent.
.

Dear Kim Wilson,

Please contact me via member profile to arrange to discuss options in this all too familiar scenario.

Mark A is quite right- any time a person holds money that is destined for someone else, and it does not reach its rightful owner, we always look at that fraud offence.

Robert Mellors

4 years ago

Hi Mark

Your comment: "any time a person holds money that is destined for someone else, and it does not reach its rightful owner, we always look at that fraud offence." - Does that also apply to tenants who receive Housing Benefit to pay their rent and then does not use it for that purpose, would this also be a criminal fraud (or theft maybe)? (The police and the council never seem to be bothered by this, or treat it as fraud, and there is little the landlord can do to get the money owed to them, but if it was treated seriously as a "criminal" matter, then it may put tenants off stealing from their landlord in this way).

There are many other instances of things tenants do to landlords which could be construed as "criminal", but the police refuse to take action or bring criminal prosecutions, e.g. theft of keys (non-return of keys at end of tenancy, causing lock changes to be necessary), damage to property (malicious criminal damage). Is there scope for bringing criminal proceedings in such cases?

4 years ago

Regulatory problems again!

May I respectfully suggest that Mark and his team put together an easy to read set of guidelines to help the unwary or over-trusting landlord? An individual who may have inherited granny's house or flat and is busy at work and with his family may be easy prey to villains.

Romain Garcin

4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Robert Mellors" at "27/09/2014 - 11:04":

"Your comment: “any time a person holds money that is destined for someone else, and it does not reach its rightful owner, we always look at that fraud offence.” – Does that also apply to tenants who receive Housing Benefit to pay their rent and then does not use it for that purpose, would this also be a criminal fraud (or theft maybe)?"

Ah but HB belongs to the person who receives it (the tenant), this is _not_ the landlord's money.
The tenant owes the rent to his landlord.

andrea merrigan

4 years ago

Well an agent in Coventry did the same thing.with approx 500 properties, he removed deposits years before without the landlords and tenants knowing. He has disappeared with rent and the deposits. Leaving the front of the business managed by another shark agent who tried to get extra business.i tried too obtain my deposits rent and spare keys for my properties and was told they cannot locate them.this was passed on to the police. However I am sure I will not see that money anymore. I am now left with the deposits to find as well as mortgage money and I gave a tenant that refuses to leave my property as repairs were not actioned by the agent

Mark Alexander

4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "andrea " at "27/09/2014 - 15:10":

See above, you now know what can be done and there is no time limit.

Your money, your future, your choices!
.

Kim Wilson

4 years ago

Thank you for your comments. I will liaise with the few landlords I know and see what they say. The agency in question is Harbour Properties in Goldthorpe and the receivers are O'Hara & Co in Birstall.

Action Fraud have told one landlord that they may get involved dependant on the scale of the problem!! If they don't investigate initially they will never know!!

Thanks

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