This story is a good example of the importance of choosing a reputable letting agent. Two letting agents have recently been in the criminal courts for stealing deposits. In one case the agent concerned ran a residential lettings business in Torquay and received deposits from tenants that should have been paid into a protection scheme. Unfortunately he used the money, totaling £12,000 to fund his gambling habit.

In the second case a Plymouth agent was jailed after a staggering £210,000 was stolen from deposits and spent on family holidays and paying off credit card debts. We have often warned our landlord insurance clients of the need to be very careful before entrusting their properties to an agent. Check out the firm’s credentials and if at all possible go for a firm that has been personally recommended. Are they members of a professional body and do they hold relevant qualifications? A major investment like a residential property is too important to leave in the hands of an incompetent firm. As well as the deposit there are several areas where a good agent can make all the difference between having a successful business with happy tenants and a struggling business with tenants complaining. The efficiency of the hand over and inventory process for example.

For some time it has been a legal requirement to protect the deposits paid by tenants, whether these are paid to an agent or to the landlord direct. This means that the money will be available at the end of the tenancy to return to the tenant or hand over to the landlord in the case of breaches of the tenancy agreement. The penalties for failing to comply with this requirement are severe so it is essential that landlords familiarize themselves with the rules and ensure that their agents are complying.