Rogue letting agents continue to take advantage of trusting tenants, by taking their deposits and not putting them into a Government-approved protection scheme.
Three men from north London have been convicted of fraud, having failed to return tenants’ deposits and pass on rent to landlords. Trading as Crestons in Islington, Mohammed Rayn Mashuk, Mohammed Ibrahim Ali and Ahmed Ali Syed targeted at least 19 victims, taking from them a total of £105,000.
It has come to light that many involved with the private rental sector (PRS) do not know the proper procedure required when handling tenancy deposits. In Just Landlords’ recent survey, it was revealed that of the 1,000 British citizens questioned, 66% did not know where a landlord should keep a tenant’s deposit.
This lack of awareness seems to be making it too easy for the likes of these rogue letting agents to abuse their position and get away with fraud.
Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Islington Council’s executive member for housing and development, said: “This is a major victory for the council, on behalf of private tenants and landlords not just in Islington and London but across the country – sending the message loud and clear that rogue letting agencies cannot rip off their clients and get away with it.
“This business trading as ‘Crestons’, using various company names, alone would have dealt with a huge number of tenants in Islington and neighbouring boroughs and I am extremely proud of our Trading Standards team, who worked so hard gathering evidence and witness testimony to build a strong case and secure these convictions.
“Prosecutions like this are rare but vital in the fight for better standards in the private housing market. We won’t stop here.”
Andrew Clooney, chair of the NTS Tri-Region Investigation Team, has also commented: “Islington Trading Standards had received a large number of complaints relating to this property letting company, who were actively targeting people trying to secure accommodation.
“The Government announced earlier this year, following a consultation, that it would make it compulsory for letting agents to belong to a client money protection scheme, which would allow landlords and tenants to recover money embezzled or lost by the letting agent.”