London letting agency under police investigation

Landlord Expert
By Landlord Expert May 27, 2011 09:48

Police are continuing their investigations into a lettings agency after landlords complained that thousands of pounds owed to them had allegedly not been paid.

Detectives from Kingston CID are investigating the claims from 15 landlords against Jins Lettings in New Malden High Street.

The Korean owner, Jin Hardy, has not been seen by neighbours at her home in Windrush, New Malden, for weeks, although one former employee said Mrs Hardy had suffered a stroke.

Police seized documents at the office when they acted on a warrant on May 12. No arrests were made.

Simon Newman, who worked in the lettings office from November 2010, and finished some time between April and May, told the Surrey Comet in April Mrs Hardy had suffered a stroke.

He said: "It’s her function to pay rent and process deposits and she hasn’t been able to."

Landlord Shehzaad Mussa, 29, from Slough, who has known Mrs Hardy for 15 years, said he was owed £5,000.

Mr Mussa said Mrs Hardy told him she was seriously ill, but would get his rent money to him as soon as she could.

He said: "I understand if she is ill, but I even offered her help. It is a big disappointment from someone who we have known for so long. We do not know where she is."

Attempts by the Surrey Comet to contact the owner failed and when this newspaper tried to contact her office the phone was disconnected.

A police spokesman said: "At present we are still trying to determine the number of people who may have been affected and confirm the whereabouts of monies paid to the agency.

"At this stage we would appeal to the owner of Jins Lettings, Myoung Hardy, also known as Jin Hardy, to contact Kingston police in order to assist us with inquiries."

Police were also asking landlords with a complaint to tell them how much money they thought they were owed.

Landlords wishing to provide information to police are asked to complete the pro forma statement at cms.met.police.uk, or visit the met.police.uk and choose Kingston in the find your local police menu.

The woman at the centre of the police investigation into estate agent non-payments, Jin Hardy, arrived in the UK in 1975 and set up Jins Lettings in 1991.

Mrs Hardy, who is believed to have a son from her late husband, was interviewed and photographed as part of a BBC article into the popularity of New Malden.

She told the BBC: "In 1991 I set up the estate agents. Friends said I should do it, because so many Koreans speak no English.

"In 1996-97 it was really mad and we spread really fast."

Fifteen landlords have come forward claiming they are owed thousands of pounds by her agency.

Homeowner Huma Shah, from New Malden, who let her property with Jins said she was owed three months’ of rent and deposit money worth £6,850.

She said: "I feel terrible. I have lost a lot of money, but I don’t think there is anything I can do."

Another landlord, who did not want to be named, said she was owed £2,025 of deposit money.

She said she last saw Mrs Hardy on January 8, when signing a tenancy agreement and spoke to her over the phone in the first week of March.

She said: "We do not know if she is even in the country now."

A police investigation began after a frustrated landlord who had not received rent money since January posted his concerns on a community website, asking if anyone knew where Mrs Hardy of Jins Lettings was.

The post, which was made in April, attracted responses from several other angry landlords alleging they had suffering in the same way.

The lengthy discussion thread directed landlords to report their cases to police and has since moved to a closed online forum.

Landlord Expert
By Landlord Expert May 27, 2011 09:48

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