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Huge rise in thefts of tenants' cash, says campaigning letting agent

Crooked landlords and letting agents were convicted of stealing £1,162,037 of tenant’s cash in 2017 – a rise of 14 per cent on the £1,018,100 recorded in 2016.

The figures come from renting reform campaigner Ajay Jagota, who runs no-deposit firm Dlighted.  

He says 27 landlords and letting agents were convicted of theft, fraud and embezzlement relating to tenancy deposits in 2017, with the amounts taken ranging from £130,000 to £595 throughout the year with the average theft being £43,038.

Jagota, who keeps a running tally of such cases, says 2018’s totaliser is already up and running with four convictions – totalling £419,439 - recorded already.

Several of these are cases reported on Letting Agent Today including Russell Baker of Devon, who stole an estimated £400,000 in deposits and received a suspended jail sentence. 

“We’ve had year after year of non-stop tinkering with renting in the UK, but none of it has made the slightest impact. In fact, things are getting worse” says Jagota, who heads up the #ditchthedeposit campaign, which is encouraging the government to help tenants to rent deposit free. 

“It’s time for landlords and letting agents to take a stand and say ‘I’m sick of losing money and customers because of a system which doesn’t give any meaningful protection against rent arrears or property damage, but does bring the entire privately rented sector into disrepute’. And that is only possibly through deposit free renting” he claims.

“£1.1m might not sound like much when compared to a total deposit bill in excess of £4bn, but as I keep saying, this is only the thefts we know about. Our deposit system doesn’t just make it easy to misappropriate tenant’s cash, it makes it easy to cover your tracks too. At the same time it makes it harder to find and keep good tenants and to make a profit out of renting out property.” 

  • Andrew Hill

    Deposits are important to give tenants an incentive to not trash a landlord's property. Though its terrible that some rogue agents, of which they're few and far between, have stolen from their clients, we're not all the same and taking deposits really isn't increasing the likelihood of stealing, no more than collecting the rent.

    This chap doesn't appear to have a clue what he's talking about. Imagine the monopoly on deposit insurance premiums if deposits were banned. It will push rents up the same way as the tenant fee ban and selective licensing schemes that cost in excess of at least a month's rent, sometimes two in most areas.

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