A letting agent in Croydon has been sentenced to 19 months in prison after being found guilty of keeping more than £15,000 in client deposits over a six-year period.
Thirunga Damayantharan of My Lawn Estates was found guilty at Croydon Crown Court of creating bogus tenancies and then failing to return deposits to prospective tenants, instead choosing to pocket the money.
More than 33 transactions were made through the agent for properties primarily located in and around Croydon.
The court heard evidence from more than a dozen prospective tenants, all of which provided evidence of deposits being unlawfully held.
Judge Gower told Damayantharan: “You were quick and efficient at relieving them of their money, if necessary by driving them, there and then, to cashpoint machines. Some have spoken of being made to feel rushed.
“Thereafter, they found it increasingly difficult to make contact with you, as the time for commencing the tenancy in their home grew ever nearer. A variety of different excuses were put forward by you as to why they were not able to move in.
“Only one prospective tenant managed to get back the whole deposit, but it took a considerable time and a great deal of persistence. The majority got nothing.
“The way you operated was thoroughly dishonest.”