A regional newspaper claims that a lettings agency has collapsed, its boss has gone to ground, and thousands of pounds are owed to landlords and tenants.
The Eastern Daily Press says landlords are up in arms because a Swaffham agency called eHomes has allegedly not paid them rent and has not been securing tenants’ deposits in protection schemes, as required by law.
The EDP says the company’s sole shareholder and director, Victoria Steele, has not returned messages from landlords or from the newspaper itself: on Friday, Letting Agent Today attempted to contact the agency, without any success.
The newspaper makes a number of allegations about the firm, including that The Property Ombudsman has ordered it to pay one landlord £10,000; the paper also says the Tenancy Deposit Service is in the process of cancelling eHomes’ membership.
It also claims that the previous firm run by Steele went into liquidation in 2015 owing creditors £100,000.
The newspaper says: “Victoria Steele’s last estate agency firm went into liquidation owing creditors more than £100,000. Prestige Lettings and Management Ltd, which she owned with her husband, Fergus Steele, appointed liquidators in July 2015. When it went into liquidation it owed HMRC £50,000 and trade creditors more than £25,000. Employees were owed £7,750 and banks another £19,246. But the taxman later lodged a claim saying it was owed even more at £130,000. According to the firm’s latest statement of affairs in September 2017, it is ‘unlikely’ creditors will get any money back as the firm had just £12,700 in assets.”
Matthew Green, a property developer, is quoted in the piece as having rented his shop in Swaffham to eHomes - Steele’s latest venture - and to asking the company to let an investment property for him.
However, he says he was paid no rent from January to March for his shop, a total of £2,250. The rent from his residential tenant was also meant to be paid directly to him but it was paid to eHomes instead.
“Despite months of chasing, he has not been paid the money, leaving him more than £4,000 short in total” says the newspaper.
Another landlord client, Trevor Hucklesby is quoted claiming that his tenants' deposits were not secured in a protection scheme by eHomes.
A string of other disgruntled landlords are also cited in the story, including one person who says that he received an email from the firm suggesting it was to cease trading.
The story is extremely detailed and well-researched - you can read it in full here.