Letting agents are urging landlords to make sure they only do business with firms offering a money protection scheme.
Firms signed up to the SAFEagent scheme are highlighting that landlords and tenants risk losing thousands of pounds in rents and deposits if an agent outside a money protection scheme shuts.
The most recent firm to go bust in Canterbury owes landlords and tenants more than £410,000. Continue reading Landlords urged to only deal with ‘safe’ letting agents
Fraud investigators uncovered a ‘missing’ £85,000 from a failed letting agent that ran into financial problems after the supervising franchise closed.
Peter Swatton, 55, admitted fraudulent trading at Mold Crown Court, where he was jailed for 36 weeks suspended for two years, ordered to spend 300 hours on community work and to pay £600 costs. Continue reading £85,000 ‘missing’ as letting agent traded fraudulently
Letting agent Helen Gregory has been expelled from The Property Ombudsman scheme after a rent row with a buy to let landlord client.
Her firm Beechwood Property Portfolio, in Bakewell, Derbyshire, was dumped from the scheme after failing to resolve a dispute with the landlord over persistent late rent payments. Continue reading Ombudsman boots out rent row letting agent
Dozens of letting agents have gone bust in recent months leaving landlords struggling financial with unpaid rents and unprotected deposits.
In some cases the letting agents are just poor business administrators, but several have ended in court for deliberate and calculating frauds involving the theft of hundreds of thousands of pounds of money belonging to property investors. Continue reading Protecting a Rental Business Against Rogue Letting Agents
A jailed letting agent who stole cash from landlords to fund his ailing business risks another 15 months in prison if he fails to pay his victims £44,000 compensation in the next 12 weeks.
Stephen Greenwood, 55, was sent to prison for 12 months in February after admitting four fraud charges at Warwick Crown Court.
He was arrested after his firm, Greenwood Homes, based in Rugby, Warwickshire, collapsed in November 2009 owing £382,000.
Greenwood had asked the court to consider 59 more fraud offences and admitted stealing £69,518 from landlords to finance his business. Continue reading Fraudster Letting Agent Faces More Time in Jail
"Leaders believe the industry is rife with fraud"
Theft and fraud by letting agents has always been a problem in the industry, claims the managing director of the UK’s largest independent letting business.
In a damning indictment of the industry, Paul Weller of south east based Leaders hits out against dishonest and incompetent letting agents – but alleges the problems have dogged landlords and tenants for 28 years. Continue reading Crooks Have Plagued us for Years, Says Leading Letting Agent
"Lancashire Investor Club cons Investors"
Buy to let fraudsters lied about rental returns and finding tenants in a scam that tricked investors out of more than £1 million.
The property investment club sold 21 houses in Burnley and Pendle, Lancashire, to Irish landlords by offering false promises about the likely real returns.
In fact, Manchester Crown Court heard the sale prices of the homes were inflated and the investors could never hope to make the promised profits. Continue reading Buy to Let Fraudsters in £1 Million Property Club Scam
"Letting agents pleads guilty to using clients funds"
A letting agent confessed to a judge that he dipped in to rents and deposits paid by tenants to keep his struggling business afloat.
Zulfiqar Hussain, who traded as Charles Lawson Lettings in Oxford, pleaded guilty to eight charges of unfair commercial practice and transferring criminal property at the city’s crown court.
The charges arose from an investigation by trading standards officers after complaints from landlords. Continue reading Struggling Letting Agent Dipped in to Client Funds
"OFT to allow ombudsman to bring in code for letting agent"
The Property Ombudsman finally has government go-ahead to tighten up on rogue letting agents who exploit landlords and tenants.
After two years of trying, the Office of Fair Trading has given the nod to the ombudsman to introduce a lettings code for agents.
The aim is to give better financial and legal protection to some of the worst excesses of poor letting agents.
The code is the first stage in a process to allow letting agents to display an ‘OFT approved’ logo on web sites, shop windows and documents.
To join the scheme, letting agents must demonstrate:
- Tenant deposits are kept in separate from business money in a designated client account
- Letting agents cannot include commission for property sales or lease renewals carried out by someone else in their agreements with landlords
- Where a tenant pulls out of a let through no fault of their own, any holding deposit will be refunded in full within 10 working days.
- The ombudsman will offer a free mediation service for tenants and landlords complaining against a letting agent who belongs to the service
The property ombudsman is now setting a monitoring scheme to test the code that involves mystery shoppers and customer surveys.
Cavendish Elithorn, Senior Director of the OFT’s Goods and Consumer Group, said: “This code, together with the property ombudsman’s redress mechanism should establish good practice in the letting industry.
“The code reiterates the need for letting agents’ terms to be transparent and fair. This specifically includes ensuring private landlords are not locked into long contracts under which they have to keep on paying renewal commissions when they wish to change agent, or which require them to pay sales commission unfairly.
“The ombudsman has undertaken a great deal of work to develop this code of practice and we will continue to work closely with it towards full OFT Code Approval.”
"Unfair Letting Agent contracts may lead to action"
Letting agents have been warned that they must offer landlords clear and fair contracts or face action from government consumer champion the Office of Fair Trading.
The OFT is concerned that some letting agents are not abiding by a High Court ruling that found tenancy renewal terms in contracts between London letting agency Foxtons and landlords were unfair. Continue reading OFT warns letting agents about unfair contracts