Lenient Sentences: “A kick in the teeth” for defrauded tenants and landlords - Says Deposit Protection Chief

The lenient sentences handed down last week to the owner of a fraudulent Worcester based letting agency and his accountant has been described as a “kick in the teeth” for tenants and professional letting agents in the private rented sector.

Steve Harriott, the Chief Executive of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, TDS,  was commenting on the suspended jail terms given to Brandon Weston and David Williams of lettings firm Premier Places, which traded in both Worcester and Redditch.  They were sentenced following conviction for defrauding clients of deposit money despite claiming to hold it in ring-fenced client accounts.

Amounts defrauded from tenants ranged from £400 to over £1,000 in some cases.  The Tenancy Deposit Scheme paid out over £63,000 to tenants as a result of this case.  “Not only were their actions fraudulent they served to undermine the excellent work of properly self-regulated agents,” said Steve Harriott.

Mr Harriott said it was shocking that stealing deposits and making false claims to the accreditation bodies for the lettings industry should result in only a few hours community service.  “Criminals like this should go to jail, not have their sentences suspended.  They have defrauded private individuals and brought disrepute to the private rented sector”.

“The law requires deposits to be protected through authorised tenancy deposit schemes and this case highlights once again the need for regulation of the private rented sector and for the courts to take these frauds and the protection of consumers more seriously,” he added.

27th September 2011

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