The former owner of an estate agency in Ipswich which went bust owing landlords and tenants just over £28,000 after being sold to an ex-employee is seeking to repair his reputation.
Jonathan Waters sold Jonathan Waters Estate Agents Limited to former employee Jane Russell in 2014.
But Waters was last week disqualified from managing companies for five years for failing to safeguard the money that should have been paid to landlords.
Investigators from the Insolvency Service looked at the causes of why Jonathan Waters Estate Agents Limited, based in Ipswich, collapsed and found that Russell, from Frinton-on-Sea, Essex, had failed to comply with legislation requiring all tenants deposits to be placed in a recognised scheme.
After Jonathan Waters Estate Agents Limited entered into liquidation, investigators discovered the company had no record of 11 tenants’ deposits totalling £12,000 that had been received between March and August 2018, while tenants’ deposits received between April 2017 and August 2018, totalling £20,000, had not been paid into a government-backed statutory deposit protection scheme.
The firm had also collected just over £7,000 of rent from tenants between March and August 2018. This should have been paid over to the tenants and landlords but had instead been spent in the general running costs of the business.
Waters, who has since opened Foxhall Estate Agents, said perceptions of his new business, which is trading from the same address and has the same phone number as Jonathan Waters Estate Agents Limited, had been damaged by what happened with his former firm under Russell's management.
He said disgruntled landlords, who had lost money to his former company, had approached Foxhall Estate Agents, believing the new business should be refunding their missing deposits.
“Boycotts and demonstrations were threatened as well as the local MP being involved,” he told the Ipswich Star. “This was all very worrying to us, as totally innocent parties.”
“New clients under the Foxhall ownership I'm happy to say are discovering that the service has returned to normal in terms of its quality,” he added.