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Sentencing…

This not really a heading that one would expect on a Landlord and Tenant blog but with the country up in arms in many cases about the sentencing of the rioters and the recent Court of Appeal decisions we thought it prudent to mention the case of Premier Places.

Brandon Weston and David Christopher Williams ran Premier Places, a lettings agency with offices in Worcester and nearby Redditch. They were sentenced this week for a long-running fraud but the sentences were suspended.

Weston who ran the business pleaded guilty to four charges of fraud between 1 April 2007 and 28 February 2008 and was sentenced to 12 months in jail. But the sentence was suspended for two years and so he will not go to jail unless he is convicted of another offence within that time. He was also ordered to serve 250 hours of community service which is an alternative to custody. Williams, the book keeper, was sentenced to serve eight months, suspended for two years plus 150 hours of community service. He pleaded guilty to three charges of forgery of an accountant’s signature.

In sentencing, the Judge at Worcester Crown Court took into consideration the fact that Weston exhibited genuine remorse and was bankrupt with the events having had a devastating effect on his family.

According to prosecutors, Weston had interests in a restaurant, “The Glasshouse” in Worcester, a family home, a house in France and seven other houses in Worcester he was also allegedly taking £8,500 out of the business every month.

Daniel White of Counsel for Weston confirmed that he had signed over to the prosecution or sold all his assets and that his life had been turned upside down following his bankruptcy.

Premier places were a member of TDS (the Dispute Service) which has made good the losses suffered by both tenants and landlords at a cost of some £63,000. As most of you know the deposit should be held in a designated client account which is treated as a trust account and is therefore ring fenced from the assets of any company. However the deposits were not ring fenced despite the reassurances given to the tenants and landlords.

Steve Harriott, the Chief Executive of TDS, says that the sentences are “a kick in the teeth” for the tenants and landlords who were the victims of the scheme and that it “undermined the excellent work of properly self-regulated agents.”

Whatever your opinions maybe on the sentencing of these agents we at PainSmith Solicitors do agree that the industry needs to be regulated and that just like lawyers agents should undergo a minimum amount of training every year.

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