Property campaigner launches stolen deposits totaliser

Property campaigner launches stolen deposits totaliser
This is just the tip of the iceberg and this is not just about a handful of criminals

Property campaigner Ajay Jagota has launched a “stolen deposits totaliser” – keeping track of how much cash crooked letting agents are convicted of stealing in 2017.

2017’s first example occurred this week when Julie Feilden admitted 13 counts of theft by employee at South East Suffolk Magistrates having embezzled close to £16,000 from her former employer, the Newmarket branch of Smith Gore.

As lettings administrator, Feilden was responsible for collecting deposits from a number of tenants and placing them in a tenant deposit scheme, but stole various amounts - ranging from £450 to £3012 – between March 2010 and September 2015.

The business - subsequently acquired by Savills – was a member of industry body ARLA and subject to annual auditing.
Research from Jagota last year showed £1,018,100 of deposits were stolen in 2016 - with at least one landlord or letting agent convicted every single month.


Jagota, founder of deposit-free renting solution Dlighted, said: “£2.4bn of the UK’s £3.2bn rental deposits are held by lettings agents, with next-to-no supervision over what happens to that money. It’s far too easy for this money to be used illegally or inappropriately and this is a huge scandal waiting to happen.

The worst part is, this is just the tip of the iceberg and this is not just about a handful of criminals. We’ve even been approached to assist in one major new case which will be coming to light in coming weeks.

Deposit money must be placed in a completely ring-fenced account and not touched by the agent or landlord for any business purpose. But there is a common belief in the industry that to do so it completely legitimate and as a result there are doubtless countless otherwise upstanding and honest agents who misappropriating client money by mistake.  

This is a government-backed system which is subject to no scrutiny at all. Not even the media! We’ve had respected and apparently knowledgeable journalists tell us letting agents can use deposits any way they see fit!

This agency was even a member of ARLA and as such would have been audited annually. But these crimes went on for five years and nothing was uncovered. I’ve tweeted them asking for an explanation but so far nothing has been forthcoming. If landlords and letting agents didn’t take cash deposits these crimes wouldn’t be possible.  And that’s why the deposit system needs urgent reform”

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Latest Comments

Kelvin Lloyd
Kelvin Lloyd 09 Oct 2017

IT is up, to the Planners. If they will only give permission for bungalows on certain (suitable) sites, they will be built.

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maggie swift
maggie swift 09 Oct 2017

It's just the beginning of the shocking rise.

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maggie swift
maggie swift 09 Oct 2017

I have recently read that the bungalows can provide social housing for elderly residents in London.

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zoe glover
zoe glover 05 Oct 2017

Update! Worst company I have ever dealt with. Undervalued a Cambridge property by over 100k, wont take on any evidence of valuation including a RICS valuation done 3 years ago for the very same value...

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Paul Edwards
Paul Edwards 27 Sep 2017

Its nonsense articles such as this that make it harder to get clients to realise just how difficult the market is out there. When you see Rightmove and there are more 'price reduced' then 'new' most days...

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Tom Allen
Tom Allen 20 Sep 2017

Absolutely agree with you!

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RyanGeo
RyanGeo 18 Sep 2017

A sharp correction would be a less dramatic expression to use. That is already underway in certain sectors in Reading where I practice as Chartered Surveyor

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sean benton
sean benton 01 Sep 2017

Identity theft is a thread for any profession. So,people should stay alarmed. I once take help from a letting agent and came to know that letting agents are taking every precaution to prevent fraudulent...

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Mark N.
Mark N. 30 Aug 2017

We have seen a surge in instructions over August and that should continue into September too.

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Chris
Chris 30 Aug 2017

Unfortunately, all the legislation bears its force on Landlords and ignores, naively, the effect of Rogue Tenants on the ability of landlords to keep houses in repair and offer properties for rent at reasonable...

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Christian Donovan
Christian Donovan 18 Aug 2017

The write-down on house values, combined with the fall in the GBP saddled the fund?s property portfolio with a 1.4% loss in the second quarter. The shocking amount of $240 million.

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Samantha Goodman
Samantha Goodman 11 Aug 2017

Interesting point of view.

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