Hundreds affected by letting agent's failure
ONE of the city's largest letting agents owes more than £400,000 in deposits to hundreds of landlords and tenants.
The Times revealed last week that Joseph Newman Letting and Estate Agents in St Dunstan's had gone into voluntary liquidation.
Now, it has emerged the eponymous director may have ploughed deposits belonging to up to 320 landlords and tenants into the struggling firm's funds.
According to online records, the company was in financial trouble to the tune of £185,846 before the creditors stepped in last month.
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There is now panic among the hundreds left out of pocket, who fear they may never again see their cash – which Mr Newman had failed to ring-fence as part of the Deposit Protection Scheme.
Mr Newman, who is believed to own a holiday home in Turkey and a car with personalised number plates, could not be contacted for comment before the Times went to press.
The 71-year-old was not at his former office in St Dunstan's Street, nor either of his homes, in Rosiers Court, Canterbury, or Summer Hill in Harbledown.
At a meeting of creditors last Wednesday, Richard Segal and Brian Johnson from the insolvency firm Fisher Partners were appointed joint liquidators of the company.
In a statement, they said: "The main cause for concern is that the deposits received by the company from tenants were not held with the Deposit Protection Scheme for the benefit of the tenants and landlords, in accordance with best practice and contrary to the contractual terms and the impression given by the company.
"It appears that these deposits were utilised to fund the company's loss-making trading and the liquidators will be undertaking investigations into this matter."
According to a Statement of Affairs provided by Mr Newman, the company's total deficiency stands at £413,321, with cash owed to more than 249 tenants and 70 landlords – a figure which is set to increase further.
The statement continued: "Any person who has been affected by the liquidation and has yet to contact Fisher Partners should do so immediately."
Among those plunged into financial hardship by the collapse of the company is Wash Freeze, a domestic appliance supplier based in Whitstable.
Director Trevor Emery said he provided Mr Newman with a fridge-freezer and washing machine for one of his properties, but is yet receive the £975 he is owed.
He said: "We've been left out of pocket. They usually pay their bills, but this time, they ceased trading before they paid us.
"I've spoken to a solicitor, but it doesn't look like I'll ever see the money. It seems it would cost as much in legal fees to pursue it.
"I'm bitter about it, because they must have known they were in trouble when they booked our services. For a small company like us, it could mean the difference between surviving and not surviving. It's going to make our life very difficult."
Are you one of the many affected by the liquidation of Joseph Newman Letting Agents? Do you know where Mr Newman is? Get in touch with the newsroom on 01843 578167 or e-mail newsdesk.times@KRNmedia.co.uk.