A BBC investigation has lifted the lid on the growing scandal of disappearing DPS money and deposit fraud
The investigation – featuring contributions from renting reform campaigner Ajay Jagota – examined the issue of money which goes lost to tenancy fraud, theft an embezzleent from insurance-based Tenancy Deposit Schemes
£2.4bn of the UK’s £3.2bn tenancy deposits are held in these schemes, which see deposit money handed over by renters retained by their landlords or letting agents. Research by Jagota has shown how landlords and letting agents were convicted of embezzling more than £1m from these schemes in 2016.
The programme investigated the case of Cornwall letting agency Premier Property Management, which currently owes clients more than £35,000 in deposit cash.
At the time of broadcast the firm was listed as a member ARLA Propertymark, the regulatory body designed to “reassure all of those renting and letting out property that agents who display the Propertymark Protected logo offer better protection for their clients”.
The listing disappeared from ARLA’s website in the immediate aftermath of the programme, but Premier Property continues to advertise itself as a member of the organisation, which this week promised that when renters see their logo they can be reassured that “they and their money are safe”.
Speaking to the programme MP Oliver Colvile, who has campaigned for tenants’ rights, described the case as “appalling” adding “clearly there needs some action to be taken on all of this”.
The BBC investigation was broadcast the same week as letting agent Tahir Khan was jailed for 45 months by Bolton Crown Court for illegally holding onto £130,000 of deposits paid by tenants.
Deposit campaigner Ajay Jagota from Dlighted, the deposit replacement scheme which offers landlords a rent guarantee, £500,000 of asset protection and free legal support, while eliminating the need for a tenancy dispute service, responded to the figures, said:
“It’s a significant milestone that the mainstream media is picking up on a major DPS scandal which could engulf the entire private rented sector at any second.
“For too long it has been the letting industry’s dirty little secret that rent deposit scheme cash can be used as personal piggy banks which firms can dip into whenever they see fit.
“In the age of insurance there is no need for cash deposits to be taken at all, with landlords better off protecting their properties against careless tenants in the same way they would protect their own homes.