At least 19 landlords and tenants have been left £105,000 out of pocket by unscrupulous letting agents who ran London-based letting agency Crestons.
Mohammed Rayn Mashuk, 42, and Mohammed Ibrahim Ali, 37, were convicted of carrying on business for a fraudulent purpose, as officers of Sirs Associates Ltd, trading as Crestons, based in Islington and neighbouring boroughs.
During their five-week trial at Blackfriars Crown Court, the jury heard that the unscrupulous agents refused to refund deposits at the end of tenancies, failed to pass on rent to landlords and did not put tenants’ deposits in protected schemes.
The investigation was triggered by complaints from tenants and landlords who had fallen victim to Crestons.
Islington's housing chief Cllr Diarmaid Ward 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.
“Prosecutions like this are rare but vital in the fight for better standards in the private housing market. We won’t stop here.”
The council’s trading standards team is now pursuing confiscation orders to claw back much money from the agents, who are due to be sentenced in January.