Posts with tag: rental deposits

Property campaigner has started ‘stolen deposits totaliser’

Published On: January 13, 2017 at 2:48 pm

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Long-time anti-deposit campaigner Ajay Jagota has moved to compile what he has coined a ‘stolen deposits totaliser.’ Mr Jagota says that this will keep tabs on how much rogue letting agents have been convicted of stealing in 2017.

Rogue Agents

The first example of 2017 came this week when Julie Feilden admitted 13 counts of theft by employee at South East Suffolk Magistrates. This came after she stole almost £16,000 from her former employer, Smith Gore.

In her role as lettings administrator, Feilden was responsible for taking deposits from tenants and placing them in Government approved tenancy deposit schemes. However, she stole various amounts, ranging from £450 to £3012 between March 2010 and September 2015.

The business was subsequently acquired by Savills and was a member of industry body ARLA and subject to annual auditing.

Research from Mr Jagota revealed over £1m worth of deposits were stolen during 2016, with at least one landlord or letting agent convicted per month.

Scandal

Mr Jagota, founder of deposit-free renting solution Dlighted, noted: ‘2.4bn of the UK’s £3.2bn rental deposits are held by lettings agents, with next-to-no supervision over what happens to that money. It’s far too easy for this money to be used illegally or inappropriately and this is a huge scandal waiting to happen.’[1]

‘The worst part is, this is just the tip of the iceberg and this is not just about a handful of criminals. We’ve even been approached to assist in one major new case which will be coming to light in coming weeks. Deposit money must be placed in a completely ring-fenced account and not touched by the agent or landlord for any business purpose. But there is a common belief in the industry that to do so it completely legitimate and as a result there are doubtless countless otherwise upstanding and honest agents who misappropriating client money by mistake,’ he continued.’[1]

Property campaigner has started 'stolen deposits totaliser'

Property campaigner has started ‘stolen deposits totaliser’

Scrutiny

Jagota went on to say, ‘This is a government-backed system which is subject to no scrutiny at all. Not even the media! We’ve had respected and apparently knowledgeable journalists tell us letting agents can use deposits any way they see fit!’[1]

‘This agency was even a member of ARLA and as such would have been audited annually. But these crimes went on for five years and nothing was uncovered. I’ve tweeted them asking for an explanation but so far nothing has been forthcoming. If landlords and letting agents didn’t take cash deposits these crimes wouldn’t be possible.  And that’s why the deposit system needs urgent reform,’ he concluded.[1]

[1] http://www.propertyreporter.co.uk/landlords/property-campaigner-launches-stolen-deposits-totaliser.html

 

Over £1m in tenancy deposits stolen so far this year

Published On: October 14, 2016 at 11:42 am

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Shocking new figures have revealed that rogue letting agents have been convicted of stealing over £1m in tenancy deposits so far in 2016.

If that is not bad enough, one campaigner feels that this could just be the start, with more bad news to come.

Deposits

Anti-deposit campaigner Ajay Jagota of Dlighted has conducted analysis that indicates courts have found14 letting agents guilty of illegally taking renters deposits this year. The amount of money taken has ranged from £500 to £400,000.

Mr Jagota, who wishes to see more landlords and agents using Dlighted’s deposit-free renting service. He claims that more than 1,000 renters have been ripped off of £1,100, with at least one landlord or agent convicted every month.

‘If a piece of jewellery or a painting worth £1m was stolen or 1,000 consumers were simultaneously ripped off it would be a major news story. So why should another theft of that scale be tolerated?’ Mr Jagota asked. ‘It’s plain and simple: If landlords and letting agents didn’t take cash deposits these thefts would be avoided.’[1]

Continuing, Jagota said: ‘The most horrifying part is that this is in all probability just the tip if the iceberg. Two thirds of the industry opt for a insurance-based tenancy deposit scheme meaning they are custodians of £2.bn of the £3.5bn held in tenancy deposits.’[1]

Over £1m in tenancy deposits stolen so far this year

Over £1m in tenancy deposits stolen so far this year

Deposit schemes

All three tenancy deposit schemes-MyDeposits, Deposit Protection Service and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme-all require deposit money to be placed into an account which is not touched by the agent or landlord.

However, Mr Jagota feels that there is a misconception in the industry that to do so is legitimate. He notes: ‘There are no check and balances stopping them.’[1]

Concluding, Jagota said: ‘Countless agencies could be unwittingly breaking the law, and if some agencies are habitually using deposit money in their day-to-day activities, what happens if they no longer could? They would become insolvent overnight.’[1]

[1] https://www.landlordtoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2016/10/more-than-1m-in-tenancy-deposits-stolen-by-letting-agents-this-year-alone

 

Where in the North East can you expect a quick let?

Published On: August 9, 2016 at 9:56 am

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An average North East rental property houses a tenant within 97 days of going onto the market, according to new research.

Analysis of 15 North East regions by sales and lettings firm KIS reveals that there are a few unlikely rental hotspots in the region.

Tenant turnover

Landlords in Consett can expect to have the shortest wait to find tenants.

The report indicates that buy-to-let investors in the region see properties rented out within an average of 58 days. Other fast-renting areas include Chester-le-Street (75 days), Whitley Bay (81 days), Cramlington (83 days) and Durham City, (86 days).

At the other end of the scale, the second slowest region in the North East to rent out a property was Newcastle, where homes take an average of 125 days to let.

Houses in the North East take an average of 17 days less to rent out than flats.

Where in the North East can you expect a quick let?

Where in the North East can you expect a quick let?

Quick lets

Ajay Jagota, managing director of KIS, said, ‘Consett may not be the first place you think of when it comes to Northern property hotspots, but there are some obvious reasons for why properties there seem to rent out faster than the rest of the region. The most obvious one is that as a smaller area than most of those we’ve surveyed there are likely to be less houses to rent and more competition for properties as a result-something always worth considering for landlords and prospective property entrepreneurs.’[1]

‘The time it takes to rent out a property is, of course, not the only factor you need to consider when it comes to deciding where to invest in property. Although these figures suggest Gatesehead is somewhere to consider avoiding it has offered investors the region’s highest rental yields in almost every survey we’ve ever undertaken. If you are looking to rent out a property quickly, the quickest way to do it is to remove the biggest and bizarrest obstacle to finding and keeping good tenants-rental deposits,’ he continued.[1]

‘Our research shows that tenants on average need to find £798 in deposits to move into a rented home. By insisting on deposits when you could instead use an insurance-backed deposit free solution is intentionally limiting potential tenants to people who have that sort of money lying around,’ Jagota added.[1]

[1] http://www.propertyreporter.co.uk/landlords/where-do-north-east-properties-rent-the-quickest.html

Abolish rental deposits, property expert urges

Published On: June 13, 2016 at 9:45 am

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A leading property expert has moved to welcome plans to reform rental deposits. What’s more, Southampton MP Alan Whitehead Labour MP has called for policy makers to abolish the legislation altogether.

Chancellor George Osborne has recently revealed the Government’s intention to change rental deposit laws, while deputising for David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Question.

Pot luck

Mr Whitehead also said that letting agents are, ‘completely unregulated,’ which in turn led tenants to rely on, ‘pot luck’ when trying to find scrupulous property owners.

Osborne noted, ‘we are looking at what we can do to make sure that people who rent have proper consumer protection, including protection from landlords who withhold deposits unreasonably.’

Property expert Ajay Jagota, owner and founder of property firm KIS, the first letting agents to abolish monetary deposits, feels that these kind of deposits should be scrapped across the sector.

Solutions

Mr Jagota said, ‘Alan Whitehead was quite right when he said renters can face pot luck when it comes to choosing the right landlord or letting agent. The irony is that a glaringly obvious solution to that problem has been staring everyone in the face for some time. He was less right when he claimed the lettings industry is unregulated. In fact landlords and letting agents need to comply with almost 150 individuals pieces of legislation.’[1]

Instead of churning out more red tape for good landlords or creating new costs to be passed on to tenants, the simplest and most effective landlords or creating new costs to be passed on to tenants, the simplest and most effective solution to guarantee a better deal for renters is to abolish deposits and move the private rented sector towards the insurance-backed model used in almost every other industry on the planet,’ Jagota continued.[1]

Abolish rental deposits, property expert urges

Abolish rental deposits, property expert urges

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Rising rents

Continuing, Jagota noted, ‘study after study concludes that they are the biggest barrier to entering and moving house in the private rented sector, with our research showing the average renter needs to stump up more than £1,000 to get the keys to a new home before they’ve even paid the first month’s rent.’[1]

‘But time and time again policy-makers ignore this in favour of the same old cul-de-sacs and clichés like banning of letting agent fees or rent controls. Not only would abolishing deposits mean the £3.2billion being release into the wider economy, £2bn of which is literally just gathering dust and interest right now, it would make it easier for renters to move house, easier for them to keep a house and easier for them to save for a property of their own.’[1]

‘A survey recently showed that 78% of renters want greater protections from their landlords – this is the simplest and most effective way of giving them that piece of mind,’ he concluded.’[1]

[1] http://www.propertyreporter.co.uk/landlords/politicians-urged-to-abolish-rental-deposits.html