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Court imposes confiscation order of over £1m on disgraced letting agent

A former letting agent from Kettering has been ordered to pay a confiscation order of over £1m made under the Proceeds of Crime Act - one of the biggest orders of its kind made against an agent in the UK.

Harpreet Garcha, who ran property lettings franchises Belvoir in Kettering, Desborough and Corby, was sentenced to two years and nine months in prison in 2016.

[Note - new owners took over the Belvoir franchises in 2014. Belvoir Property Management (UK) Ltd, the franchisor, is not the subject of any action relating to this case.]

The court heard how Garcha, now aged 41, of Kettering, fraudulently generated significant profits at the expense of tenants and landlords by dishonestly increasing the cost of maintenance and safety work. 

He was also convicted of money laundering, VAT fraud and insurance fraud. The offences were committed out between 2008 and 2012.

Now a confiscation order for £1.006 million was made under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 – the largest confiscation order ever secured by Northamptonshire Trading Standards and one of the biggest ever secured against an agent in the UK.

Of that, £51,000 will be paid out in compensation to Garcha’s former tenants and landlords who were victims of his offences.

Garcha will face up to seven years in prison if the order is not paid in full.

“This is an amazing result for Trading Standards and reflects the hard work of the officers involved in carrying out both the criminal and financial investigation” says a council spokesperson.

Garcha’s fraudulent business practices first came to the attention of Trading Standards when a landlady made a complaint about being overcharged for routine maintenance at her rented home in Kettering.

Upon querying the cost of safety checks, she had been provided with invoices for £502.50 – these were fakes as the contractor doing the work had only charged £166.25.

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    scum like him are damaging us all,as do landlords from hell.
    The government should reward good landlords who declare income and pay tax,not punish them with the latest stamp duty,tax changes,and other matters that affect "good"landlords.
    Bad landlords must be put out of business now.Those who are not paying or declaring their business,must have all properties confiscated.

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    This wasn't a bad landlord, it was a bad agent

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    Came across his Desborough office when looking for a tenant for my own property. Tenant 'passed' all the referencing, then not too long after he had moved in I found out that he had a criminal record with outstanding fines, and arrears owing to a previous landlord. The fines were paid but my rent wasn't, so I eventually had to repossess and lost about £1,500 in the process. I did obtain a CCJ but no money of course as he had no assets.

    Something strikes me as familiar.......................!

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    The landlady in question first took her complaint to The Property Ombudsman who did little more than nothing. Undeterred by this malaise she went to Trading Standards who took up the baton and the rest is history!! The Property Ombudsman should quite frankly be ashamed of themselves. They are paid to protect both landlords and agents from unscrupulous individuals - Money For Nothing comes to mind!! Maybe they would like to explain why they are so incompetent and thus justify their existence, or maybe they realise they are just another group of highly paid government watchdogs who do F all unless it is simple!!

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