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

MBM Homelets
MBM Homelets 23 Mar 2017

Although this is a very positive step, there is little or no guarantee of the standard of workmanship employed by the tenants. We have had experience of a professionally decorated property being ' painted'...

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ajay
ajay 21 Mar 2017

How is the "robust evidence" looking now?

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NathanG
NathanG 20 Mar 2017

I've been watching the series so far and am completely baffled by the cases that were presented. Though, I don't think that we can protect ourselves from every scam possible - it will just make the scammers...

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Landlady14
Landlady14 01 Mar 2017

You would think so Niraj Shah! My experience only proves that there are varying qualitiers of professional in all aspects of property letting. None of the ones I have dealt with, from letting agents to...

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Mark
Mark 01 Mar 2017

Thanks for this article. Hopefully one day everybody's lifestyle will be eco-sustainable.

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Ben Taylor
Ben Taylor 28 Feb 2017

I was convinced that London was the most expensive!

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Alan Read
Alan Read 28 Feb 2017

Australia are leading the way in this I think. The trouble with Britain is we don't get enough sun to make use of solar power.

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James Powell
James Powell 27 Feb 2017

This is a very good news.

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DanHumphreys
DanHumphreys 27 Feb 2017

It sounds like a good idea. Anything to help the younger generation get a foothold.

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Matt
Matt 20 Feb 2017

Is this fake news?

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Matthew Hollywood
Matthew Hollywood 07 Feb 2017

Matthew Hollywood - Director Mishon Mackay Land & New Homes - Brighton The shortage of New Homes is in part effected by the lack of land sales. Land sales are held back because there is a disparity between...

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CommercialTrust
CommercialTrust 30 Jan 2017

Hi Graham, Would be interesting to see the above figure calculated against an investment via a Lt Company /SPV structure and if the investor found themselves pushed in to the higher tax bracket. Mortgage...

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