Estate agent disqualified - but landlords still furious over missing £28,000
PUBLISHED: 15:44 11 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:19 11 February 2020
Sarah Lucy Brown/Archive
Landlords say they feel “failed by the system” after receiving just a fraction of the £28,000 of tenants’ deposits and rent that went missing from an Ipswich estate agents.
Jane Russell, director of Jonathan Waters Estate Agents Limited (JWEAL), has been disqualified from managing companies for five years for failing to safeguard the money that had should have been paid to landlords.
But two landlords whose tenants' deposits went missing after employing the estate agents to manage their properties, have said the disqualification is little consolation as they are still hundreds of pounds out of pocket.
Anthony Molyneux, whose tenant paid £975 to JWEAL in May 2017, said he had received just £35 back from liquidators.
"I feel we've all been failed by the system," he said.
Mr Molyneux claims other landlords had been taken to court by tenants for failing to place their deposits in an official scheme.
Another Ipswich landlord, who asked not to be named, said he received "just a few pounds" back from his tenant's deposit.
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Insolvency Service investigators began looking into Ms Russell's conduct after the company went into liquidation in August 2018. They found she had failed to follow regulations requiring tenants' deposits to be placed in an official scheme.
Ms Russell, 51, from Frinton on Sea, had been working at the estate agents for years before she acquired the company in 2014.
Investigators discovered the company had no record of 11 tenants' deposits totalling £12,000 while a further £20,000 of deposits hadn't been paid into a protection scheme.
The company had also collected over £7,000 of rent from tenants which should have been paid to landlords but instead went on business running costs.
Ms Russell's actions were found to have cost just over £28,000 worth of losses to tenants and landlords, with money generally spent on running the business.
She was disqualified from running businesses on January 24 - with the ban taking effect from February 14 for five years.
Senior investigator Rob Sheils said: "This disqualification should serve as a deterrent to other directors who safeguard money from doing likewise."
Jonathan Waters, who founded the company in 2002 but sold it in 2014, has previously said he had not been involved as a director since.
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