Peter Phillip Leonard, a director of Direct Residential Lettings Limited, a letting agency business based in Hove, Sussex has been disqualified from acting as a director for ten years for failing to client monies, deposits and rents, were properly protected.
The company, which owed clients, landlords and tenants, at least £577,865, had a registered office was 20 Western Road, Hove, East Sussex, BN3 1AE.
Mr Leonard (58), has given a disqualification undertaking*, prevents him from becoming involved in the promotion, formation or management of a company until 2025.
The company, Direct Residential Lettings Limited (Direct) was incorporated 22 January 1997 and traded a letting agency in Hove. Mr Leonard became a director of Direct in February 2007 when he jointly purchased the company. The company got into difficulties and was placed into compulsory liquidation on 30 September 2013, on the petition of Mr Leonard himself, as the company was no longer able to pay the debts it owed.
An Insolvency Service investigation found that Mr Leonard failed to ensure that Direct complied with its statutory obligations, under provisions of the Housing Act 2004 and its relevant approved schemes relating to the protection of tenants’ deposits.
Mr Leonard failed to safeguard tenant deposits and rent payments, collected in from at least 19 April 2007 onwards. He was also responsible for causing Direct to mislead the National Approved Letting Scheme, a regulatory body of which Direct was a member, by submitting false accounting information to them from at least 2010 onwards.
As a consequence of Mr Leonard’s actions, Direct owes at least £577,865 in respect of missing tenancy deposits and rent payments collected in and not paid over to landlords. The Insolvency Service has been unable to account for transactions paid out of Direct’s bank account totalling £501,393 between October 2012 and May 2013
Commenting on the disqualification, Liesl Cook, Official Receiver for Brighton and Croydon, stated:
“The public should be assured that the Insolvency Service will seek to disqualify the directors of companies that do not obey the law and use other people’s money for the benefit of the company.”
*Disqualification undertakings are the administrative equivalent of a disqualification order but do not involve court proceedings.
The Insolvency Service administers the insolvency regime, investigating all compulsory liquidations and individual insolvencies (bankruptcies) through the Official Receiver to establish why they became insolvent. It may also use powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK.
In addition, the agency authorises and regulates the insolvency profession, deals with disqualification of directors in corporate failures, assesses and pays statutory entitlement to redundancy payments when an employer cannot or will not pay employees, provides banking and investment services for bankruptcy and liquidation estate funds and advises ministers and other government departments on insolvency law and practice.