Nearly £850,000 worth of deposits have been stolen in the last year, according to a lettings agency chief who monitors legal action against rogue agencies and buy to let landlords.
Ajay Jagota, a renting reformer and advocate for abolishing deposits, has spoken out about criminals in the sector. Jagota reported that by the end of the third quarter 2017 deposit thefts had mounted up to reach £847,227. This equates to an average of £44,591 per conviction.
During 2017, at least 24 rogue letting agents and buy to let landlords have been convicted of offences that relate to the theft of deposits for a rental property, a figure which adds up to an average of over two per month.
Research from Jagota’s deposit replacement insurance firm Dlighted last year revealed that £1,018,100 of deposits were stolen in 2016. At least one buy to let landlord or agent were convicted each month for the offence. However, worryingly, Jagota 2017’s figures appear likely to exceed this figure.
Jagota offered his opinion on deposits, and why they may not be entirely necessary: ‘Not only do deposits drive up the cost of renting – hurting landlords as much as anyone by making it harder to find tenants while providing feeble protection against unpaid rent or property damage – they make criminal behaviour easy. They hurt letting agents too, leaving them vulnerable to the huge reputational damage of convictions like this or exposing them to potentially bankrupting losses and costs. As I’ve said time and time again, the very worst part of this is that these figures don’t even start to show the true scale of deposits being misused, misplaced. misappropriated or plainly and simply stolen.’
Despite their tradition in the buy to let sector, Jagota has asserted that no deposit means no risk for the landlord, agent or tenant.