The case of an unscrupulous letting agent should serve as a reminder for agents and landlords alike to make sure they adhere to their legislative obligations.
Mr Martin Marcus, from Bushey, was jailed for four and a half years after pleading guilty to conning landlords and tenants out of more than £220,000.
Marcus was found guilty of five counts of fraud and was guilty of a number of other unscrupulous actions, such as:
- keeping tenants’ deposits
- providing rogue tenants
- failure to source accommodation
- not returning deposits
- failing to secure deposits in a Government accredited scheme
Mr Marcus worked for the Churchill Residential letting agents in Barnet. This company’s name had previous seen a number of changes, from Corporate Relocations, Anthony Grant and A&A Properties.
Speaking for the prosecutuion, Mr Gordon Menzies said, ‘tenants would hand over money to the property and that money would disappear into the business. The company assured clients it would put their money in a ring-fenced client account but if you look at this client account, it was used for coffee shops, underground stations, EasyJet tickets, transactions made in Spain and Virgin Active memberships.’
This is a case that highlights the need for vigilance. If you are a landlord or agent, make sure you provide your tenant with the details of what scheme you have secured their deposit in, either:
Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS)
Deposit Protection Service
As a tenant, you are legally entitled to this information within 30 days of your landlord taking a deposit.
If you are a buy-to-let landlord, you should take the time to research a reputable letting agent, to assist you with your investment. You will be unable to claim on your landlord insurance policy should you fail to adequately manage your assets!