The head of an estate and lettings agency has been expelled from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors after admitting taking over £25,000 from clients’ accounts and repaying it at a later date.
In addition Mike Reid’s agency - Reid + Dean in Eastbourne – has been reprimanded by the institution. The decision was revealed in a nine-page statement on the RICS website in the past few days after a hearing on the issue back in June.
The RICS’ disciplinary panel says Reid + Dean’s parent company, Eastbourne Surveyors Ltd, failed to preserve the security of client money entrusted to its care in the course of its business because the accountancy systems and controls were inadequate.
It also said that between October 2013 and May 2016 Reid took more than £25,000 from the client account operated by the firm without the consent of the clients. The irregularities came to light during an regulatory review by an RICS accountant in May 2016.
Reid admitted the dishonesty to the panel and said his troubles stemmed from the illnesses of a senior negotiator and then a busiess partner. “Over the period while his business partner had been ill, the firm had gone through three lettings managers. As a result of the inspection by RICS, Mr Reid had found that both his current lettings manager and he himself had not really been trained properly in dealing with client accounts” says a section of the disciplinary panel’s report.
Reid and his firm have now been asked to pay some £5,000 in costs to the association; he says he is now hoping to sell his agency.
The final report from the panel notes that the firm had cooperated with the RICS, that it had treated the findings of the institution seriously, and that the company had - at some considerable expense - made itself complaint with RICS rules. It also recognised that Reid had not intended to deny his clients their money on a permanent basis.
You can read the entire RICS report here.