Letting agent is sent to jail after £110,000 fraud

A letting agent who failed to protect tenants’ deposits and did not pass rent on to landlords has been jailed. The out-of-pocket victims have been warned they are unlikely to get a penny of their money back.

Paul Collins, 47, who ran Thomas and Company Rentals in Milton Keynes, was sentenced to ten months in prison after pleading guilty to 25 counts of fraud.

The case was brought after Milton Keynes Council’s Trading Standards received complaints from landlords that they had stopped receiving payments.

Passing sentence, Mr Recorder Laird QC said: “On occasion you met landlords yourself and face to face. With barefaced cheek, you lied to them saying that the business was sound when it wasn’t. The losses were around £110,000.”

He added: “Deposits paid by tenants were not protected in the appropriate way. You told the authorities that you were aware of the legislation that required the protection of deposit monies.

“You were eventually made bankrupt, and there is little prospect of these people receiving any recompense for their losses. These were offences of a serious nature.

“The money was never the property of Thomas and Company Rentals. It was others’ money.”

Karen Ford, head of the Regulatory Unit for Milton Keynes Council, said: “The sentence imposed reflects the seriousness with which the court views those who defraud businesses and consumers.

“Trading Standards will always look to take action to protect the rights of the consumer and support legitimate traders in Milton Keynes.”

The firm was not a member of ARLA or NALS. As the law stands, there will be nothing to stop Collins returning to the lettings industry as there are no powers to ban letting agents.