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High Court winds up lettings agency and successor over “serious failings” (7 September 2015)

Date: 07/09/2015
Duncan Lewis, Legal News Solicitors, High Court winds up lettings agency and successor over “serious failings”

The High Court has ordered the liquidation of a successor lettings company and a further successor – or “phoenix” – company, after the Insolvency Service found serious failings in the original company, which were also repeated in the successor company.

In 2012, Morgan Fox (Lettings) Limited – formerly Anthony Morgan Lettings Limited – took over the residential letting assets of Anthony Morgan UK Limited (in liquidation).

Morgan Fox (Lettings) Limited has now itself been ordered into liquidation in the public interest – together with a further successor company, Morgan Fox Property Limited.

Investigators found that in some cases both landlords and tenants using the services of the companies were unaware there were two companies.

Investigators from the Insolvency Service also found the companies were not dealing with deposits from tenants in accordance with an authorised scheme, as required by the Housing Act 2004.

Company Investigations Supervisor, Chris Mayhew, said:

“Money that should have been protected was not safeguarded as required – and tenants and landlords have once more been left out-of-pocket by the activities of these two companies.

“For this to happen once could be considered as unfortunate, but to occur again is carelessness or worse.”

Investigators found that properties were managed by both companies, as well as a company in the director’s own name, Darren Anthony Briggs.
However, because of “the inadequacy of the records” and an “intermingling” of the companies’ affairs with the residential letting business in the director’s name, investigators were unable to establish the total number of properties under the management of Morgan Fox (Lettings) Limited (an estimated 64 properties) – and Morgan Fox Property Limited (an estimated 42 properties).
However, the properties identified in the investigation are in Chingford, Harlow and other parts of Essex, as well as North London.
Mr Mayhew added:

“Unethical agents who cause hardship and misery for tenants in this way harm the public’s trust in the rented sector – and the Insolvency Service will investigate and come down hard on companies if they are found, as here, to be operating against the public interest.

“The Official Receiver now appointed to wind up both companies’ affairs will be glad to receive details from any landlords or tenants who have dealt with either of these companies of any failure to repay deposits due by them.”

Under the Housing Act 2004, any tenancy deposit paid to a person in connection with a short-hold tenancy must be dealt with in accordance with an authorised scheme from the time it is received.

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