Crooked landlords and letting agents have already been convicted of illegally pocketing over £900,000 of tenant’s cash in deposit theft in 2018 – with half the year still to come.
Renting reform campaigner Ajay Jagota of zero deposit firm Dlighted keeps a stolen deposit totaliser, highlighting how much money is stolen from renters every year.
Recent convictions took the running total of stolen deposits to £911,391 by the end of the second quarter of 2018 – close to the £1,162,037 recorded over the course of 2017, when the deposit free renting firm’s figures showed overall deposit theft convictions rising 14% year-on-year.
The latest landlords and letting agents to have been convicted of stealing £135,592 of deposits are:
· Rachel Cefai of Rugby, jailed for two-and-a-half years for diverting more than £105,582 of tenant’s money into her own bank account, and with a judge saying that her “dishonesty seems to know no bounds”.
· Rhian Falvey of Swansea, jailed for two years after paying more than £30,000 of tenant money into her own bank account and creating bogus invoices and credit notes on the firm’s electronic systems to cover her tracks.
Seven landlords and letting agents have now been convicted of stealing deposits in 2018, at an average theft of £13,199.
Ajay Jagota is head of the #ditchthedeposithcampaign, with seeks government encouragement for landlords and letting agents replacing traditional tenancy deposits with deposit replacement insurance, allowing the £4.2bn of renter’s cash held in deposits to be transformed into Help to Buy ISAs for first-time buyers and eliminating deposit theft.
“Cases of deposit theft are clearly and demonstrably becoming more and more common and my worry is that the coming Tenant Fee ban will make things even worse.
“The government’s own impact assessment suggests that letting agents are going to be hundreds of millions of pounds out of pocket, forcing many firms out of business. With billions of pounds of renter’s money just sitting there, the temptation to use that money to bail our struggling businesses could become too great for many agents.
“This is a significant amount of money we’re talking about – close to £4.5bn. Not only is that money missing from the UK economy, there is literally no way at all of knowing for certain how much of is just missing.
“It doesn’t have to be this way. Deposit replacement insurance gives landlords and letting agents significantly superior protection against rent arrears, property damage and legal costs while allowing them to let properties longer and faster.
“Deposit free renting makes renting cheaper for tenants, easier and more profitable for property professionals and cuts crime. The case for it is compelling.”
Dlighted, is a deposit-free renting solution that helps tenants to rent for zero deposit by using deposit replacement insurance to give landlords and letting agents over £600,000 of cover against property damage, unpaid rent and legal fees.