An agent has been banned from managing companies for five years after failing to safeguard £28,000 worth of tenants’ deposits and rent which was meant for landlords.
The Insolvency Service has announced the results of its investigation into Jane Hipkin Russell’s conduct.
She was sole director of Jonathan Waters Estate Agents, in East Anglia.
After it collapsed into liquidation, the Insolvency Service found that Russell, 51, of Frinton-on-Sea, Essex, had failed to protect deposits.
Russell had worked for the Ipswich-based estate agents for many years before acquiring the company in September 2014.
However, it went into liquidation in August 2018.
Investigators found no record of 11 tenants’ deposits totalling £12,000 received between March and August 2018; while deposits received between April 2017 and August 2018, totalling £20,000, had not been protected by a government-authorised scheme.
The company had also collected just over £7,000 rent from tenants between March and August 2018.
Instead of being paid to landlords, it had been spent on the general running costs of the business.
In total, there were just over £28,000 losses.
The Secretary of State has now accepted a disqualification undertaking from Russell, the ban becoming effective this Friday.
For five years she is banned from being a director, or from being directly or indirectly involved, without court permission, in the promotion, formation or management of a company.
Insolvency Service senior investigator Rob Sheils said: “A fundamental part of Jane Russell’s role was being responsible for safeguarding money on behalf of her tenants and landlords, something she failed to do prior to the company falling into liquidation.
“This disqualification should serve as a deterrent to other directors who safeguard money from doing likewise.”
However, one landlord owed money by the agency said that the ban was little remedy. Landlord Anthony Molyneux paid £975 in fees, but has received only £35 back from the administrators. He said: “I feel we have all been failed by the system.”
Jonathan Waters sold his eponymous agency to Jane Russell in 2014, as he needed to become a full-time carer for his mother. The business was then run under the same name until it went into liquidation.
Waters himself returned to the industry last year, calling his new business, in Ipswich, Foxhall Estate Agents.