Agent who failed to protect deposits still awaits sentencing

An agent who failed to protect tenants’ deposits is now due to be sentenced next year.

Helen Gregory, 55, who has admitted three charges of engaging in unfair commercial practices, had been due to be sentenced last week, but the case was adjourned until a date to be set in 2015.

In the long-running saga, she was charged in July last year in a prosecution brought by Trading Standards.

The charges related to three businesses in Matlock and Chesterfield, Derbyshire: Beechwood Lettings, Beechwood Property Portfolio, and Letzlet, and to a time period spanning April 1, 2007, and October 2012.

According to the Derbyshire Times, the paper was contacted by anxious customers in November 2012 after tenants’ attempts to withdraw money from the Deposit Protection Service were unsuccessful.

The matter attracted a lengthy Facebook thread. There are also accusations on the allAgents site from both landlords and tenants relating to retained money.

In February 2012, the Property Ombudsman expelled Beechwood after it failed to pay an award made against it, and had delayed paying rent into a complainant landlord’s account on 12 occasions over a period of 19 months.

A month later, TPO said Beechwood Property Portfolio was illegally displaying the TPO logos for both sales and lettings, despite not belonging to a redress scheme. The firm was continuing to sell homes.

TPO had earlier delayed the expulsion of Letzlet, trading as Beechwood Lettings, while the complainant landlord was helped to obtain a county court judgment of £2,176.

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