The number of independent letting agents who illegally dip into tenant deposits to support their struggling businesses is set to rise, 30-branch South East sales and letting agency Romans has predicted.
Its punchy comments are within an unusual blog on its website that likens errant agents to character Walter White in US TV drama Breaking Bad.
The agency says that when the Tenant Fees Bill becomes law next year many independent agents will lose a “sizeable chunk” of their income and therefore start looking for ‘short cuts’.
“If the recent behaviour of misusing client money is anything to go by, the amount stolen will increase further putting more and more landlords at risk,” the blog says.
No agent sets out to be a rogue deposit dipper, Romans argues, but a series of bad decisions leads to it happening.
“Whilst watching an episode of Breaking Bad, it suddenly occurred to me, like Walter White, other agents hadn’t started out with bad intentions, they are victims of circumstance,” explains Romans’ Lettings Managing Director, Richard O’Neill (left).
“All agents (hopefully) start out with good intentions [and] they want to do the right thing for landlords and tenants alike. However, just like Walter White, when faced with financial pressures and unforeseen circumstances, many begin to look for short cuts.”
Romans uses the blog to call for landlords worried that their letting agent may be about to use tenant deposits to help support their struggling business to contact a larger agent like Romans.
“Some agents have employed a dedicated compliance team to manage the on-going changes to legislation and ensure client funds are protected,” says Richard.