Three letting agents who failed to return tenants’ deposits or pass on rent payments to landlords have been convicted of fraud by a jury after a five-week trial.

The men, who ran companies in Islington and neighbouring London boroughs using the trading name Crestons, were convicted of carrying on business for a fraudulent purpose, leaving at least 19 victims around £105,000 out of pocket.

During the trial Blackfriars Crown Court heard testimony from more than 30 witnesses.

Between 2014 and 2016, the men failed to refund deposits to private tenants at the end of their tenancies, failed to pass on rent to landlords, and failed to put tenants’ deposits in an approved protection scheme.

The investigation was triggered by complaints from tenants and landlords who had fallen victim to Crestons. The convictions follow an investigation by Islington Trading Standards and other departments of the council.

A local authority spokesman says: “This is a major victory for the council, on behalf of private tenants and landlords not just in Islington and London but across the country – sending the message loud and clear that rogue letting agencies cannot rip off their clients and get away with it.

“This business trading as Crestons, using various company names, alone would have dealt with a huge number of tenants in Islington and neighbouring boroughs and I am extremely proud of our Trading Standards team, who worked so hard gathering evidence and witness testimony to build a strong case and secure these convictions.

“Prosecutions like this are rare but vital in the fight for better standards in the private housing market. We won’t stop here.”

The council is now pursuing confiscation orders against the three men, to claw back as much money as possible for the victims.

The men will be sentenced next month.

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