An agent who posed as a private landlord and took deposits off prospective tenants has escaped jail.
The case strongly reinforces arguments for the mandatory regulation of letting agents.
Konrad Hadfield, 32, advertised on a private website properties that the agency he worked for, Lawsons & Daughters, was letting.
He then stole the deposits, subsequently ignoring calls and text messages. In one case, the victim paid over not only the deposit but the supposed admin fee as well.
He also apparently advertised sub-let rooms and showed potential tenants around while the actual tenants were away.
Hadfield, who is said to have worked for at least one agency in Wandsworth, London, appeared twice at Kingston Crown Court, first in January and then last month.
On the first occasion, he faced five charges and pleaded guilty to four, subsequently pleading guilty to all five after the further victims came forward.
He was given an eight-month sentence, suspended for one year, ordered to repay over £5,500 to his victims and ordered to do unpaid work.
At the second court appearance, he pleaded guilty to two charges concerning deposits of £1,550 and £750.
Again, Hadfield was given an eight-month suspended sentence, and ordered to repay the money and do unpaid work.
Altogether, we understand he was given 150 hours of unpaid work.
Detective Constable Andy Phillips told EYE: “Apparently he was very good at his job, and was known for being charming and clever.”
As the law stands, there is nothing whatever to stop Hadfield working in either estate or letting agency, or to be a director of a property business.
We have tried to reach Lawsons & Daughters for comment.
Lawsons & Daughters has been established for 30 years and is based in Fulham. It is an NAEA member firm. We understand from police that Hadfield is no longer working there.