Landlords with large property portfolios or other occupations generally rely on letting or estate agents to manage their properties for them for a fee. The fact that letting and estate agents have so much control over a landlords’ property – and ultimately their income – means that there has recently been calls for stricter regulations to be applied to them. Rogue agents not only lead to landlords losing their livelihood, but also tenants living in houses which are not properly maintained with nowhere to turn.
This is why one rogue estate agent from Lakes Lane, Newport Pagnell, was recently sentenced to ten months in prison at the Amersham Law Courts after pleading guilty to ten counts of fraud. The court heard how Paul Collins not only failed to pass rental income onto landlords, but also neglected to protect tenants’ deposits by registering them in an approved scheme. Landlords that used the company Mr Collins was a partner of, Thomas and Company Rentals, began complaining in 2010 after they stopped receiving payments from him, which led to the Milton Keynes Council’s Trading Standards Team to launch an investigation.
Mr Recorder Laird QC said when passing sentence: “On occasion you met landlords yourself and face to face. With barefaced cheek, you lied to them saying that the business was sound when it wasn’t. The losses were around £110,000. Deposits paid by tenants were not protected in the appropriate way. You told the authorities that you were aware of the legislation that required the protection of deposit monies. You were eventually made bankrupt, and there is little prospect of these people receiving any recompense for their losses. These were offences of a serious nature. The money was never the property of Thomas and Company Rentals. It was other’s money.”
Meanwhile, Head of the Regulatory Unit for Milton Keynes Council, Karen Ford, said: “The sentence imposed reflects the seriousness with which the court views those who defraud businesses and consumers. Trading Standards will always look to take action to protect the rights of the consumer and support legitimate traders in Milton Keynes.” If you are a landlord and want to find a letting agent that you can trust then you can always talk to your landlord insurance provider who will advise you of agents in your area that have voluntarily registered to regulation bodies that prove their services are of a good standard.