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New twist in revealing true cost of Purplebricks lettings error

Troubled online agency Purplebricks says it’s going to finally release its full year figures in the first week of August - although it cannot say which specific date.

The figures were to have been released on July 12.

The delay, according to a company statement this week, is “to allow sufficient time to complete the audit, which this year has included additional procedures as a result of new processes and controls implemented by the company since the last audit.”


The new procedures have been triggered in part by it having to set aside millions as a result of failing to follow lettings sector legislation to protect tenants’ deposits.

Back in January - some weeks after the lettings mistake was first revealed - Purplebricks claimed it would cost the company some £3.6m to correct the compliance issues in its rentals division. However, some newspapers and industry commentators suggested it could cost considerably more.

The agency has never revealed how many tenants and landlords were affected by its failure to comply with the law requiring deposits to be placed in a government-backed scheme, nor how long tenancy deposits were held by the agency before they were eventually placed in an approved scheme.

The agency’s lettings division has been in the eye of the storm for many months.

In addition to the speculation over the cost of the deposits error - the Daily Telegraph suggested last year that the bill could be as high as £30m - there was speculation early this year that the whole rentals side of Purplebricks could be sold off. This was denied by the firm. 

Then in March Purplebricks announced that its lettings division would follow the pattern of its sales side, and no longer have self-employed local agents in the field. Instead they wiould all be urged to become employed staff at the agency.

A statement from Purplebricks at the time claimed the move would impact about 30 agents. The firm then said: “The benefits of the new operating model in lettings are expected to mirror those in sales where the move has been well received, resulting in an improved customer experience and better support for the field team” says the company. 

Tom Bailey, Purplebricks lettings director, said at that time: “Lettings remains a crucial part of our growth ambitions. Moving to an employed field model will give us a strong platform for our growth and investment ambitions and I am excited to lead the Purplebricks lettings team in the next phase of its growth.”


Then last month Purplebricks issued a profits warning to its beleaguered shareholders, saying that in the 12 months to April 30 2022 its losses could reach almost £9m.

While all this was going on, Purplebricks’ chief executive Vic Darvey quit and was succeeded - eventually - by the agency’s former ‘chief people officer’ Helena Marston. 

However, the Daily Telegraph discovered that due diligence checks regarding Marston’s appointment as chief executive were taking longer than expected because she had a previous personal bankruptcy that was not previously revealed to Purplebricks shareholders.

Marston - whose previous work was in human resources at Virgin Media, Kuwait Energy, Jaguar Land Rover and Vodafone - was eventually confirmed as chief executive in April.

  • Matthew Payne

    If a tenant is now entitled to 3x the deposit for late registration, regardless of mitigation, why wouldnt the CEO, CFO, shareholders, accountants, auditors insist on a provision in the accounts for this worst case scenario which the Telegraph was right in saying was £30m? There cant be many tenants who dont know they are automatically entitled to this windfall after PB rang them all to tell them of their mistake???!!!! and after all the press coverage. Maybe they simply wanted to kick the can down the road for a stay of execution, and take the balance of the hit in next years accounts.

  • icon

    Marston had a previous personal bankruptcy!!
    Which was not previously revealed to shareholders, was it revealed to anyone ?
    Running a publicly listed company ?


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