The industry’s urgent need for regulation has been highlighted once more by a court case in Southampton, during which a repeat fraudster was successfully prosecuted for stealing at least £2,300 from prospective tenants after working as a letting agent for just two weeks.
Trainee letting agent Riccardo Lampietro already had a two-year suspended sentence hanging over him after previously being caught buying a Vauxhall Corsa on finance, switching the plates and then selling it on while working at a car dealership.
Lampietro (picture, left), who has in the past had a serious gambling problem, then went to work at property management firm Homelife Lettings in Southampton.
While working there for a fortnight he took deposits, fees and advanced rent from prospective tenants but then pocketed the cash rather than banking it for his employer.
The 28-year-old, who lives in Ringwood, avoided jail after problems with the legal process prevented the two sets of frauds being linked.
Also, Lampietro has repaid most of the money he stole from the prospective tenants back and will now have to complete 200 hours of community service. He also now has a three-and-a-half year suspended sentence hanging over him for both crimes.
Homelife specialises in student accommodation in Southampton and has six staff and is a member of the National Approved Lettings Scheme (NALS).