A key part of any property agent’s role is to safeguard money on behalf of their clients, who should be able to trust that they are properly protected. At Ringley, we are a member of the RICS Clients Money Protection Scheme which gives all our customers peace of mind that their rent and deposit monies are in safe hands. Unfortunately, a small number of agents out there flout the rules.
So here’s a cautionary tale for anyone responsible for other people’s money. An Essex estate agent has been disqualified from managing companies for five years after she failed to safeguard £28,000 worth of tenants’ deposits and rent destined for landlords.
Jane Hipkin Russell’s residential sales and lettings agency went into liquidation in August 2018. Investigators from the Insolvency Service found that Hipkin Russell, as sole director, had failed to comply with legislation requiring all tenant’s deposits to be placed in a recognised scheme.
The company had no record of 11 tenants’ deposits totalling £12,000 that had been received between March and August 2018. Nor had deposits received between April 2017 and August 2018 totalling £20,000, been paid into a government-backed statutory deposit protection scheme.
In addition, the company collected just over £7,000 of rent from tenants between March and August 2018. This should have been paid over to the tenants’ landlords but had instead been spent on the general running costs of the business. In total there were more than £28,000 worth of losses to tenants and landlords.
We hope this disqualification will serve as a deterrent to rogue agents who bring the whole of our sector into disrepute.