Concern has been expressed over a Kirkcaldy estate agent after numerous tenants and landlords reported deposits and rent money not being paid or passed on for months.
A number of people who rent or let properties through SJM Mortgage and Estate Agents in Factory Road have contacted the Press claiming that money paid has not been passed on to landlords and that deposits on properties have not been returned.
And Kirkcaldy MSP David Torrance says he also has concerns after being approached by many worried constituents.
Aimee Lascelles who lets a flat with her partner in Winifred Crescent said she had first experienced problems in April, after using SJM’s letting service for the past five years.
“For the last six months I haven’t received any money and I was told by SJM that the tenant hadn’t paid the rent.
“Last week I was told that it had sent an eviction notice to the tenant and not to worry as I would get my money back from the rent guarantee. Then I started to hear about other people not receiving money and alarm bells started to ring.
“I went to see the tenant who showed me bank statements showing that he had paid the rent on time every month, but I haven’t received a penny.
“I’ve had to use savings put aside for my two-year-old to pay the mortgage. I’m really angry.”
Brian Wilkie said his son Michael has not received a refund of his £395 deposit.
‘‘He got a new flat three weeks ago and SJM was to transfer his deposit to the new one. He picked up the keys but when he arrived with his furniture, the locks had been changed. He was told it was because the landlord hadn’t been receiving rent for three of his flats. He had to pay another deposit to move in.’’
Mr Torrance said “a number of constituents” had contacted him with “serious allegations against SJM.”
“A member of my staff managed to make contact with SJM early on Friday afternoon when we were told that the business was operating as usual, though I understand that the tone of this conversation was not reassuring and that SJM were unhappy that I was making enquiries on behalf of my constituents.
“While there are many rumours and speculation on social media, I am keen not to jump to any conclusions. I would like to get to the bottom of this as quickly as possible, and if anyone has any information which would shed light on this, I would urge them to speak to the authorities as soon as possible.”
Greig Henderson, service manager for housing strategy with Fife Council, said: “We’ve been made aware of some issues with SJM Lettings from concerned tenants and have referred them on to Shelter Scotland and Citizen’s Advice for guidance.
“Any dispute between a landlord and their agent would be a civil matter that we would not have involvement in but we would try to help and ensure that tenants are not unfairly disadvantaged as a result.”
Despite numerous attempts to contact SJM no response has been forthcoming.