A crooked letting agent who lost £12,000 of landlord and tenant money gambling has been given a suspended jail sentence and ordered to carry out community.
Paul Rosendale, who ran Torbay Residential Lettings, should have put the money into a tenancy deposit protection scheme, but instead he spent it himself.
At Exeter Crown Court, he admitted five counts of theft and was jailed for six months, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to undertake 120 hours of unpaid community work.
Recorder David Bartlett said the money was paid as deposits for various properties and should have been passed to the secure scheme, but instead Rosendale kept the cash.
“I am mindful of your present circumstances in which you are a full-time carer for your partner and that you have no money. For that reason I won’t make a compensation order,” Mr Bartlett added.
Tenant deposit protection is designed to hold cash in a secure account until a tenant moves out of a rented home – the cash can be claimed by a landlord if the property is damaged or rent is owed.
The losers in this case are the landlords and tenants, who will now not be able to reclaim their money at the end of their tenancy, Mr Bartlett added.
Paul Dentith, who represented Rosendale, said it was hoped the money could be repaid from deposits given by later tenants. Rosendale got in to financial difficulty because he had no experience in the business and had taken on the lettings agency at short notice.
In a separate case in Plymouth recently, letting agent Keith Ranson admitted to stealing more than £210,000 from landlords and tenants.
He took the money to spend on family holidays and to pay off credit cards, Plymouth Crown Court was told.
Mr Ranson ran a lettings agency called R House. When the business ran in to problems, he also took deposit money which should have been protected to fund his lifestyle. He pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position.