Letting Agents Close Owing Landlords and Tenants Cash

by Property118.com News Team

16:52 PM, 24th January 2012
About 7 years ago

Letting Agents Close Owing Landlords and Tenants Cash

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Letting Agents Close Owing Landlords and Tenants Cash

Midlands landlords are chasing rents and deposits from a letting agent who suddenly closed for business.

Police are looking at the demise of Baxter Todd, a letting agency with offices in Warwick, Leamington Spa, Coventry and Stratford-on-Avon.

The offices are closed, phone lines have been disconnected and emails go unanswered – although the firm’s website is still live.

One landlord raised the alarm in the local media after losing almost £1,000 in tenant deposits for two properties.

Alma Coleman claimed the firm promised to return the deposits on closing, but the money has not been paid.

“I have been a landlord for 20 years without problems. Sometimes a tenant ups and leaves but never a letting agent,” she said.

“I was with Baxter Todd for 18 months and there were no issues until now. This should act as a warning to other landlords of what might happen to them if they are not careful.

“I have tried to speak to the owners of the company but no one seems to know how they can be contacted or why I have not had the money returned to me as I was promised.”

Baxter Todd is not listed on the directories of the two main letting agent client money protection schemes run by the Association of residential Letting Agents (ARLA) or SafeAgent.

Another disgruntled landlord, Claire Wightman, told local reporters: “My husband and I were clients of Baxter Todd and had a truly appalling experience with them.

“We are also owed money – several hundred pounds – by the company but are unable to contact them. We are contemplating legal action.”

The agency is a previous winner of the Best of Warwick Award for exceptional customer service.

Baxtertood Property Ltd, incorporated in August 2010, has a registered office at 1 Market Place, Warwick. No accounts or company returns have been filed with Companies House and the directors have made an application to strike off the company.

A previous business partnership, Baxtertodd LLP was registered at the same address but was dissolved in March 2011without filing any accounts.

Director Carl Baxter was unavailable for comment.



Comments

22:13 PM, 24th January 2012
About 7 years ago

This is a real example of why all landlords should make sure that any agent they use has a client bonded protected client account, for their protection in the event of circumstances such as this. Landlords should look for the ARLA or safe agent logos.

14:10 PM, 25th January 2012
About 7 years ago

I am a tenant affected by this story - I paid a £650 deposit which has not been paid into a protection scheme. Now I don't know how to try and get this money back as it was paid directly to Baxter Todd.... Does anybody have any advice?

15:15 PM, 25th January 2012
About 7 years ago

Well I don't like to have to advise you of this but your ultimate redress for return of your deposit IS THE LANDLORD; no matter what deposit scheme is supposedly used.
This why I ONLY use the mydeposits scheme as I hold the monies and I am hardly likely to do a runner when I am a private landlord with a certain probity required for me to remain in business.
Bearing in mind it does not appear to have been protected within 14 days and you having not received a DPC within that period you may now take and WILL win a claimin the county court for 3 x the deposit plus the doriginal deposit amount from the landlord.
Of course if you were of so generous disposition because of this rogue LA you could advise your LL that you would not pursue legal action against him but would want to receive a DPC no later than 14 days after you have advised the landlord of your proposed resolution.
Yes the LL has to rerturn money to he that he has not recevived from the LA.
That however is NOT YOUR PROBLEM.
It is the LL's problem.
He will have to resource your depost from his own financial resources whilst he presumably attempts recovery himself from the rogue LA..

Mark Alexander

15:22 PM, 25th January 2012
About 7 years ago

Paul - the courts COULD order the landlord to return the deposit plus UP TO three times the deposit but are highly unlikely to do that in these circumstances. On all other points we are in total agreement.

Hopefully the landlord will have made a complaint to the Police about the Letting Agent on the grounds of fraudulent deception and embezzlement of funds.

16:08 PM, 25th January 2012
About 7 years ago

Yes I appreciate that the courts will now take a less prescriptive view now.
Will this continue when the new DPC regs come in around April.
Is there not an insurance policy that you might be able to source for LA to cover these LA when they turn rogue.
The poor old LL and tenant seem to be at their mercy with no real redress.
A branded property118.com  LA insurance indemnity policy would go a long way to assuaging the genuine concerns of LL and tenant.
I have heard of in about the past week of numerous problems of effectively, criminal LA.
Couldn't heads be bashed together to come up with some protection measure against these rogue LA@26e5f1fff6d14712130cb16526d2c39f:disqus It is probably costing good LA an inordinate amount of business..

Tessa Shepperson

19:07 PM, 25th January 2012
About 7 years ago

As other people have said here, you can claim the money direct from the landlord.  However as (I assume) you have moved out, you will not be able to claim the penalty of 3x the deposit sum.  See here for the reason why: http://www.landlordlawblog.co.uk/2011/05/24/tenancy-deposits-the-law-that-never-was/

Note that the tenancy deposit rules are due to change in April under amendments made to the Localism Act but this will not affect your case.

22:55 PM, 25th January 2012
About 7 years ago

Thank you all very much for your help and advice.
It is greatly appreciated!

I haven't yet moved out of the property, so your comments have given
us some hope that we will get our money back.

8:11 AM, 26th January 2012
About 7 years ago

I have a new tenant who gave her deposit to a letting agent who did register it within 14 days with TDS - the agent has now ceased trading and TDS say they do not protect the deposit as the agent was in administration on the date the deposit was registered - my agency pays large fees to TDS and to ARLA & RICS and we have to have regular audits so how can TDS accept a registration when they knew the company was in admin? - looks like the landlord will end up having to pay out

9:38 AM, 26th January 2012
About 7 years ago

I am a Landlord in Newcastle where the Agent I used for some 18 months or so, Central Residential Ltd, behaved in the same way by suddenly stopping answering telephone, email, letters and text messages and shortly later closing their office. They collected rents for me and held deposits for a number of properties. Some of the deposits were registered properly and some were unregistered despite charging me the registration fee. I have lost almost £10,000 in deposits alone. I reported this fraud to the Police and Trading Standards neither of whom was interested nor would they take any action. The Agent has since gone into Liquidation owing in excess of £100,000 meaning that there is little chance that I will see any of my money and I am still responsible for repaying deposits that I have never received.

10:23 AM, 26th January 2012
About 7 years ago

My husband and I made an application to Companies House to have the striking off and dissolution order suspended on the basis that we have pending litigation against Carl Baxter/Baxtertodd.  Companies House has advised us this morning that based on the evidence we supplied, the action has been suspended until 26/07/12. 
Claire Wightman.

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