A letting agent who closed his New Malden firm leaving 17 landlords some £27,000 out of pocket has been jailed for 10 months.
Chandra Patel, 34, was the director of Giraffe Residential - Letting Agent Today has reported on the agency in the recent past.
Now the This Is Local London website reports that having closed his office in December 2014 he allegedly took tenants’ deposits to cover his own debts.
Now Kingston Crown Court has sentenced him to 10 months in prison and banned him from being a director of a company for seven years; he will also have to pay a victim surcharge to be determined at a later date.
Sentencing, Judge Timothy Lamb said: “He traded well until 2014, when things took a turn for the worse. The defendant decided to help himself to the monies which he held in trust.
“I take into account the defendant’s family circumstances, I take into account that he is of previous good character.
“However, the defendant became part of a system of retail letting which was created in order to instil trust and confidence. He was plainly not fit to play a part in the system. He abused his position.”
The website says landlords were left to reimburse their tenants from their own pockets after the money disappeared, having only been told in a letter in December 2015 that Giraffe would be dissolved and that “no payments can be made”.
Police and trading standards launched an investigation after receiving numerous complaints that month.