Maida Vale landlord warning over lettings scam which cost the taxpayer thousands

The ‘Wood & Vale’ reports;

“A Maida Vale homeowner is warning people to be careful after discovering how unscrupulous letting agents were cheating her – and the taxpayer – out of thousands of pounds each month.

Omotunde Lawal believed she had let out her Abinger Mews home to a Swiss businessman and his family, who paid £560 a week.

Miss Lawal had been told by the agents that her tenant was renting the property through his employer, a company called Kingsman & Kingsman Ltd.

But she became suspicious of what was really going on at the house and arranged a meeting with the tenant in January 2012 – two years after he had moved in.

He revealed not only had he never been employed by Kingsman & Kingsman, but that he had been claiming housing benefit since he arrived in the UK in 2004.

What’s more, Westminster Council was paying a monthly rent of £4,550 for the property – more than £2,000 a month more than Miss Lawal believed the house was being let for.

When Miss Lawal looked into the matter further, she discovered Kingsman & Kingsman’s office address was actually the home of one of the letting agents.

The deception was all the more shocking because the company – run by Karen Bain, her husband Adrian Nyack and his sister Nicola Nyack – had been recommended to her by her family’s personal banker.

Miss Lawal pursued the company through the courts, and in March this year Judge Seymour – sitting in the Queen’s Bench at the High Court – ordered the letting agents to repay her £67,559.56 in lost rent, as well as £25,000 in legal costs.

Miss Lawal has not yet received a penny of the money, and the lettings agent has since been sold to a new owner. “I saw the state of the house, I saw all the kids, and I knew this was not a corporate letting,” she said.

“If you have a letting agent managing a property on your behalf, you need to know who is living there. There is a safety aspect to this – you need to know who your neighbours are. My neighbours had quite a rough time of it as well. I felt really horrible.”

Miss Lawal added that “no one at Westminster seemed bothered” when she raised her concerns about the deception.

A council spokesman said: “This property is one which we understand was occupied by a private tenant who then came to claim housing benefit in Westminster. Residents who find themselves in need of consumer or housing advice, having fallen into a dispute with an estate agent, can contact the Citizens Advice Bureau.”

This entry was posted in Council finances, Housing, Housing Benefit, Maida Vale, Private rented housing, Westminster Council waste, Westminster North and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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