Landlords’ Stashes Stolen by an Unsuspicious Letting Agent

If you like crime documentaries or reality murder mysteries, this comes pretty close to one. A letting agent, coated in an ordinary appearance and charming personality, wouldn’t be your average suspect. Yet, Frank Smart (46), the director of his own firm Smart Residential Letting Agent in Suffolk, held his hands up in the air as he was gripped by a police car decorated in azure sirens. A+ for not letting him loose! This man had stolen thousands from landlords who chose to put their trust into his agency. The never-ending sum of money was made up in deposits and rental payments from the tenants. (Sorry Frank… but Ipswich Crown Court isn’t as fun as living in a lavish home, is it?) 

That should teach him not to conceal other peoples’ profits… as on the 12th of August, he was found guilty under the S1 Fraud Act 2006. The sentencing is due to commence after the Tri Regional Investigations Team had concluded their investigation, which spanned for more than three years in total. The Trading Standards department had zoned in deeper when several landlords could no longer speak to the Smart Agency. It had shut down and the owner had become invisible.

Cllr Andrew Reid, cabinet member for property public protection stated: “by law, the 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 and hid, resulting in substantial losses for his victims.” He added that “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.”

“This successful prosecution sends a very clear message to other agencies and business owners, like Mr Smart, that fraudulent trading will not be tolerated and dealt with adequately. Even the wisest cases will be solved.”