15:08 PM, 7th July 2011, About 11 years ago 19
Police are seeking a letting agent who has disappeared owing landlords and tenants hundreds of thousands in rents and deposits.
Hothomes UK, based in Plymouth, is believed to manage around 2,000 rented homes and losses could mount up to £500,000 or more.
One landlord claims he is owed £4,630 in rents collected but not paid by the business. Others have received cheques that bounced and tenant deposits have been collected but not protected.
Disgruntled landlords and tenants have flooded police and trading standards officers with complaints about couple Jacqueline and Tony Burridge, who ran the business.
They have also besieged their home with visits, phone calls and emails in a bid to collect unpaid debts.
Now, West Country Landlords Association has stepped in to try and mediate and solution by co-ordinating complaints.
Chairman Manny Pisani said: “We are interested in what’s going on here. We are concerned about the keys to the properties which they hold, rents which may not have been passed on to landlords, and deposits.”
Other businesses near the Hothomes UK office tipped off landlords that the Burridge family was moving out files and equipment last week.
The office is empty bar some desks and chairs – with a sign on the window warning the business is under investigation for alleged fraud.
Landlords seeking redress from Hothomes UK have also started a GumTree forum listing their grievances with the company and swapping information to try and track down the Burridge family.
Hothomes UK is one of a number of property-related businesses listed at Companies House with the Burridges as directors.
Hothomes UK does not appear to protect client money under any authorised scheme. The firm has no listed web site, just a message saying that they have unexpectedly closed without any forwarding or contact details.
The company also acted as estate agents, with around 40 properties listed on some online portals.
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