A North London landlord has revealed how dodgy letting agents were cheating her – and taxpayers – out of thousands of pounds each month.
The Ham & High revealed how Omotunde Lawal believed she had let out her home to a Swiss businessman and his family, who paid £560 a week.
The letting agent Lawal used told her the tenant was renting the property through his employer, a company called Kingsman & Kingsman Ltd.
She arranged a meeting with the tenant in January 2012, two years after he had moved in. The tenant revealed he’d never been employed by Kingsman & Kingsman, but that he had been claiming housing benefit since he arrived in the UK in 2004.
Crucially he revealed that Westminster Council was paying a monthly rent of £4,550 for the property – more than £2,000 a month more than Miss Lawal believed the house was being let for.
Further investigations revealed that Kingsman & Kingsman’s office address was actually the home of one of the letting agents, a company run by Karen Bain, her husband Adrian Nyack and his sister Nicola Nyack.
Lawal pursued the company through the courts, and in March this year Judge Seymour – sitting in the Queen’s Bench at the High Court – ordered the letting agents to repay her £67,559.56 in lost rent, as well as £25,000 in legal costs.
Lawal has yet to see any of the money, and the lettings agent has since been sold to a new owner. “I saw the state of the house, I saw all the kids, and I knew this was not a corporate letting,” she said.
Miss Lawal told the Ham & High that “no one at Westminster seemed bothered” when she raised her concerns about the deception with the council.
The story reiterates the need for landlords to know who’s living in their property and to check out any letting agent they’re considering employing.