A rogue landlord who created false identities and fake letting agencies as part of an elaborate web of misinformation designed to exploit his tenants has been fined �12,000 and ordered to pay �25,000 costs.
Thomas Flight, who owns flats on Portland Square in Bristol, admitted four consumer protection offences against his tenants at Bristol Crown Court, which heard that he had hidden his identity from them, in order to withhold security deposit money and avoid responsibility for charging banned and hidden fees.
Tenants would receive made-up landlord and letting agent information, including false names and addresses. Flight even had a fictitious person registered as a director of one of his companies. Those who complained were then harassed with demands to withdraw their valid enquiries.
Bristol City Council received numerous complaints between June 2019 until January 2021 about a property management business operating from 21 Portland Square. The business went by various different trading names, meaning no one knew who they were dealing with or who was responsible when problems arose.
The council's private housing team discovered that Flight had used various companies and trading names to receive rent, fees and deposits. In February 2021, he voluntarily repaid those tenants who had been charged banned fees or whose security deposits had not been returned to them when they should have been.
However, Flight has not been banned from letting properties as these offences are not Banning Order offences under the Housing and Planning Act 2016.