Rogue letting agents and landlords have reportedly been convicted of stealing almost £1m worth of tenancy deposits so far this year, new analysis from deposit-free renting firm Dlighted has revealed.
Anti-deposit campaigner Ajay Jagota of Dlighted, who keeps a running total of the cash value of deposits criminal letting agents and unscrupulous landlords have been convicted of stealing, reports that £911,391 worth of tenancy deposits were stolen during the first six months of the year.
Analysis from Jagota reveals that courts have found a number of letting agents guilty of illegally pocketing renter’s deposits this year, including this month’s conviction of Rachel Cefai of Rugby, jailed for two-and-a-half years for diverting more than £105,582 of tenant’s money into her own bank account, and with a judge saying that her “dishonesty seems to know no bounds”.
Elsewhere, Rhian Falvey of Swansea, was jailed for two years after paying more than £30,000 of tenant money into her own bank account and creating bogus invoices and credit notes on the firm’s electronic systems to cover her tracks.
Jagota said: “Cases of deposit theft are clearly and demonstrably becoming more and more common and my worry is that the coming Tenant Fee ban will make things even worse.
“The government’s own impact assessment suggests that letting agents are going to be hundreds of millions of pounds out of pocket, forcing many firms out of business. With billions of pounds of renter’s money just sitting there, the temptation to use that money to bail our struggling businesses could become too great for many agents.
“This is a significant amount of money we’re talking about – close to £4.5bn. Not only is that money missing from the UK economy, there is literally no way at all of knowing for certain how much of is just missing.
“It doesn’t have to be this way.”
Jagota, of North East letting agency Keep It Simple and deposit-free renting solution Dlighted, unsurprisingly wants to see more landlords and tenants to use his company’s deposit-free renting solution that helps tenants to rent for zero deposit by using deposit replacement insurance to give landlords and letting agents over £600,000 of cover against property damage, unpaid rent and legal fees.”
He added: “Deposit replacement insurance gives landlords and letting agents significantly superior protection against rent arrears, property damage and legal costs while allowing them to let properties longer and faster.
“Deposit free renting makes renting cheaper for tenants, easier and more profitable for property professionals and cuts crime. The case for it is compelling.”