Rogue letting agents were reportedly convicted of stealing just over £926,000 worth of tenancy deposits in 2017, fresh analysis from deposit-free renting firm Dlighted has found.
Anti-deposit campaigner Ajay Jagota of Dlighted, who keeps a running total of the cash value of deposits criminal letting agents have been convicted of stealing, reports that by the of the final quarter of 2017 overall thefts totalled £926,037 – an average theft of £38,585 per conviction.
At least 25 rogue letting agents and buy-to-let landlords have been convicted of offences relating to the theft of deposits ranging from £130,000 to £595 throughout the year.
As the founder of Dlighted, an insurance backed deposit-free renting solution offering cover for agents, Jagota ultimately believes that a more effective way to improve the private rented sector would be for monetary deposits to be scrapped.
He said: “In 2016 crooked landlords and agents were convicted of stealing £1m of deposits. Twelve months on nothing has changed. At the end of 2018 we’ll probably be here again. It doesn’t have to be like this.
“As far as I am concerned the misuse of deposits is endemic in our industry, and all too often this misappropriation crosses over into outright illegality. Putting up with a system which allows this is simply crazy.
“Tenants want cheaper renting, and deposit free renting delivers it, while protecting landlords better against rent arrears, legal costs and property damage, and reducing void periods. For letting agents it cuts costs and admin and brings customers to their door. Everyone wins.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Zero deposit means zero risk. Zero risk of rent arrears thanks to our rent guarantee. Zero risk of deposits not covering the cost of property damage due to the £500,000 of cover our deposit replacement insurance offers. And zero risk of criminals making off with tenant’s cash.”