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Criminal letting agent spared jail after stealing over £7,600 from tenants

A letting agent has been spared jail despite stealing over £7,600 from tenants to subsidise his failing business. 

Simon Cawley, from Kingsbridge in Devon, used deposits paid to his agency in Worcester - Severn Sales and Lettings - to prop up the company. 

The Devon Live news website says that between January 1 2013 and February 28 2015, Cawley stole £7,640 from tenants renting six properties around Worcester.


Now Cawley, appearing at Worcester Crown Court, has admitted one count of fraud; he was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years and ordered to pay £700 in costs.

The presiding judge said:"As part of your role as a letting agent you were supposed to be taking a deposit of money and putting it into a deposit protection scheme so that, in due course, tenants who didn't have deductions from their deposit could get their money back. 

"You used that money in order to ease your own cash flow difficulties, effectively robbing Peter to pay Paul.

"It was left to the landlord to pay back the tenants' deposits despite the fact that landlords had never had the money. You totally ignored your obligation as letting agent to safely ring-fence the deposits in the way you should. 

"Thankfully no vulnerable tenants lost out in this case, in fact no tenant at all, because the landlords have done the decent thing and paid the deposits back. It was the owners and landlords who lost out. 

"The offence easily crosses the custody threshold but I'm going to give you a chance by imposing a suspended sentence."

Crawley had been trading as an agent for 30 years, setting up his own business in 2004.

The full story is here.

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    So once again the landlord suffers !
    I use an agent BUT always protect my own deposits.
    I have an agent on a find tenant basis ,he does all checks references and photos of condition etc
    I set the deposits aside in premium bonds (safe and secure)
    On top of this have won many £25 and £50 .
    The money can be cashed and returned to tenants.
    Often I refund the deposits on a rolling basis from the new tenant to the leaving tenant, so do not have to sell bonds but use the new deposit to refund the tenant leaving.
    I can then show all deposits are held in a secure account (in Bonds) with the government.

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    I have some bad news for you Paul. You have to register the deposits in a government backed scheme like the DPS

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    I do register the deposits ! I just keep the money in bonds

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    Perhaps I was not very clear.
    My deposits have been protected since day one in this business I use" my deposits"

  • David Bennett

    I am confused. How are the deposits protected, if you buy premium bonds with the tenant's money? The idea of a deposit scheme is to put the money into it.

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    Hi David
    There are two ways to protect deposits,
    The insurance-based or the custodial protection.
    I have always used the insurance based where you hold the deposit and keep funds separate and safe.
    The custodial is where you hand over the deposit to the scheme company and they hold the deposits.
    This is free (but they earn interest on what can be hundreds of thousands of pounds from numerous Landlords)
    I prefer to hold my own deposits and pay an insurance to the scheme company.
    Hope this is of help.

  • David Bennett



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