Following the conviction of fraudster Simon van Houten, 31, the Rendall and Rittner managing agent who will be jailed for stealing £122,000 next Thursday, Baroness Gardner of Parkes is calling for leaseholder funds to be protected.
On Monday in the House of Lords, she is to ask the Government to introduce a transparent scheme, similar to the deposit protection scheme in short-term tenancies, to protect monies paid by leaseholders and held by managing agents.
The Van Houten case clearly illustrates the vulnerability of leaseholder funds held under no regulatory supervision by managing agents. Although none of the money was recovered, Rendall and Rittner “immediately reimbursed the small number of clients involved”.
Van Houten used a bogus company to invoice Rendall and Rittner for repair and maintenance work that was never carried out.
He operated the scam for more than two years, until November 30 2010, before suspicions were raised – initially by leaseholder Susan Stuckey, see below – about the massive bills.
Baroness Parkes prompted the Lords debate on leasehold reform last April, following representations by the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership.