16 Aug 2022
A letting agent who stole over £80,000 from landlords is awaiting sentence.
Frank Smart – owner of Smart Residential Letting Agents in Newmarket – has pleaded guilty to two counts in respect of retaining rent and deposits under the Fraud Act 2006.
The agent, 46 and from Cambridge, will be sentenced at a later date after officers from Suffolk Trading Standards began investigating him and Smart Residential in Autumn 2018.
Trading Standards responded to numerous complaints from landlords and tenants who were unable to make contact with the company after its premises in Newmarket shut in July 2018.
A spokesperson for Suffolk Trading Standards says: “Many of these landlords entrusted Smart Residential with their rental properties, and to hold tenancy deposits on their behalf.
“By law, these deposits should have been placed into a Deposit Protection Scheme – offering protection to tenants in the event of a landlord or letting agency facing financial difficulties. We believe that Mr Smart failed to use this scheme, resulting in substantial losses for his victims.
“We spoke to over 30 witnesses, with numerous landlords telling us that they didn’t receive rental income and had to refund tenancy deposits out of their own pocket.
“This resulted in individual losses ranging from £700 to over £8,000 and an estimated total loss in excess of £80,000.”
Councillor Andrew Reid of Suffolk County Council says: “This successful prosecution sends a very clear message to business owners, like Mr Smart, that fraudulent trading will not be tolerated in Suffolk.
“His actions led to countless landlords being significantly out of pocket, causing immeasurable personal and financial stress – and highlighting the importance of ensuring that any rental deposit is placed into a Deposit Protection Scheme.
“I’d like to thank officers from Trading Standards, and the National Trading Standards Tri Regional Investigations Team, for their incredible work on this complex case, along with everyone who provided information to enable this investigation to be brought to court and to see justice done.”
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