A local lettings firm has gone bust in Norfolk, and landlords are claiming they are owed thousands of pounds in unpaid rent. In addition to the money owed to landlords, tenants’ deposits were left unprotected by the agency too.
eHomes Limited, located in Swaffham, has been accused of not paying landlords their rent, as well as not securing tenants’ deposits, despite this being a legal requirement.
According to the Eastern Daily Press, the company’s sole shareholder and director, Victoria Steele, has not returned messages from landlords. The investigation into eHomes has found out:
- Landlords have had to shell out thousands of pounds to tenants, as their deposits hadn’t been protected
- The Property Ombudsman has ordered eHomes to pay one landlord £10,000
- A previous firm that was set up by Steele went into liquidation in 2015, and owed creditors £250,000
Tenants’ deposits are supposed to be protected by one of three government-backed protection schemes within 30 days. It is legally the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that the deposit is secure, so in the case of eHomes, landlords have found the problem of paying the deposit back to their tenant lies with them.
A spokesperson for the Tenancy Deposit Scheme told the press that it is terminating its eHomes membership: “We regularly carry out compliance checks on the companies and individuals who use our services.
“Typically, if we find a landlord or agent to be in contravention of our rules, we will terminate their membership of the scheme.”
Norfolk County Council said Trading Standards were aware of complaints made against eHomes. A spokesperson confirmed they were making enquiries “regarding any Trading Standards breaches”.
What is the impact on tenants and landlords if a lettings firm collapses?
A letting agency can cause problems for both tenants and landlords. Tenant problems can include the letting agency not keeping on top of maintenance or repairs when they need doing – including serious problems such as mould or damp. It can also result in delays when processing deposits, especially in the case of eHomes, when they are not registered with the correct deposit scheme.
For landlords, the financial impact can be greater, for example in the case of eHomes, one landlord was found to be £10,000 out of pocket, including £6,600 in unpaid rent and service charges. As the deposit is the responsibility of the landlord to pay back to the tenant, landlords can also find themselves having to pay back the deposit in full, if it’s been unprotected by the letting agent.
More information for landlords can be found in the guides section on Landlord News. Also, consider taking a look at some Landlord Insurance for wide cover and peace of mind when letting out your property.