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Landlord who reported estate agent to police over missing deposit is spoken to by officers for 'threatening letters'

PUBLISHED: 06:00 08 June 2019 | UPDATED: 06:31 08 June 2019

Landlord Tony Molyneux was reported to police after sending letters to an estate agent about his tenant's missing deposit Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Landlord Tony Molyneux was reported to police after sending letters to an estate agent about his tenant's missing deposit Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

A landlord was reported to police for sending "threatening letters" to an estate agent about his tenant's deposit, which went missing along with £30,000 of other customers' cash.

Ipswich landlord Tony Molyneux, 72, had written to director and owner of Jonathan Waters Estate Agents Ltd (JEWAL) Jane Russell seeking an explanation for the £975 that disappeared when her company went into liquidation last year. Police said he told Ms Russell he would protest outside her home in Frinton on Sea if the money was not returned - but Mr Molyneux denies harassing her.

He paid JWEAL to manage his rental property but learned after it folded that his tenant's deposit had not been transferred to a Government-backed protection scheme, as is required by law.

But after writing to Ms Russell, Mr Molyneux discovered he had been reported to Essex Police.

"I couldn't believe it," he said. "More than £30,000 has gone missing from this company and nothing has been done about it but when I write to its director, I get reported for harassment."

As reported last month, more than £30,000 of tenants' deposits has been unaccounted for since the company agreed to be voluntarily wound up last August, owing more than £500,000.

MORE: Anger after £30k of tenants' deposits went missing from Ipswich estate agency

Pauline Scott Property Management, which took over the running of properties for landlords after JWEAL dissolved, confirmed the deposits were missing. Around 20 Ipswich landlords have been affected.

Mr Molyneux has been trying to find out what happened to the cash, which he is liable for. He has contacted liquidators, Action Fraud and Ipswich MP Sandy Martin, in his hunt for answers.

Essex Police said it received a report on May 2 that a woman had received "threatening letters" from a man. The threats are said to involve holding a protest outside her home.

A spokesman said Mr Molyneux had received "words of advice" but no further action had been taken as officers were satisfied the matter had been resolved.

Mr Molyneux insisted there was "nothing threatening" about his letters and said he would keep seeking answers. Other tenants and landlords have told of their anger over the missing money.

Mr Martin is seeking answers from Action Fraud.

Ms Russell has not responded to requests for comment.

Voluntarily wound-up

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Jonathan Waters Estate Agents Limited went into liquidation last year - with the lost of 17 jobs.

Director Jane Russell told Companies House a general meeting of members held on August 30 had resolved "that the company would be wound up voluntarily". McTear Williams and Wood Limited was appointed as liquidators.

Speaking at the time, the liquidators said JWEAL had been in a company voluntary arrangement for 12 months, while it sought buyers for the business.

A statement of affairs, filed on September 14, reported the company owed creditors more than £552,000, including Ms Russell who was owed £132,000. Abbreviated Accounts showed the company had made a loss of £109,000 in 2015 and £252,000 in 2016.

The company was set up by Jonathan Waters in 2002. He was director until he resigned in 2014. Ms Russell, previously company secretary, then became director and owner.

Mr Waters said he was "shocked and horrified" by the news that tenants' deposits had gone missing.

He said the company was "highly successful" when he sold it and he had not been involved as a director since.

Deposit schemes

Landlords are required by law to put tenants' deposits into a government backed scheme.

The rules were introduced in April 2007 and apply to all short hold tenancies.

The regulations require landlords to pay the deposit into one of three approved schemes - Deposit Protection Service, MyDeposits or Tenancy Deposit Scheme - within 30 days of receiving it. They must also give the tenant information about the scheme.

They are intended to ensure tenants get their deposit back provided they meet the terms of their tenancy agreement, do not damage the property and pay their rent and bills.

At the end of a tenancy, landlords must return the deposit within 10 days of both parties agreeing how much will be paid back. If there is a dispute, the deposit will be protected in the scheme until the issue is sorted out.

Landlords who fail to use one of the schemes can be ordered to pay up to three times the deposit.

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