There has been a furious response from landlords and tenants to a police letter which says a local force is not going to investigate a lettings agent who is reportedly missing - along with some funds from the business.
Letting Agent Today has previously reported on Smart Residential in Newmarket, run by an agent called Frank Smart - the business has been reported closed since July, following 10 years in operation.
Local media reports claims that some deposits paid to Smart by tenants were never lodged in schemes, while a number of landlords have alleged money missing from the company, too.
On the advice of Suffolk police, property owners contacted Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, as they wanted Smart to be subject to an investigation and possible criminal charges; however, Action Fraud has suggested there could be substantial delays in taking up any case.
Now some of the aggrieved tenants and landlords have been told in a letter from Det Sgt Simon Sharp of Suffolk Police’s Crime and Incident Managing Hub Fraud Team: “It is my decision not to further investigate your case. Preliminary investigative material does not show the case meets the criminal burden of proof.”
His advice to landlords was to review any insurance they might have and to consider civil action to recover their losses, according to a report in the Newmarket Journal.
The publication says Paul Shamplina, the founder of Landlord Action and the presenter of Channel Five’s Bad Tenants Rogue Landlords, has taken an interest in the case.
“It would appear that Smart Residential did not have client money protection insurance in place. This will become mandatory next year and would have protected these landlords and tenants.
“Unfortunately, those who are out of pocket would now have to take civil action against Smart Residential which is a limited company and probably has no assets, so even if a money judgment was obtained, trying to enforce it would be fruitless.
“It is such a shame that the police in Suffolk are not taking this crime seriously enough” he is quoted as saying.
You can see the latest report on this case here.