Fraud investigation probes SJM lettings firm in Kirkcaldy

SJM Mortgage Company  on Factory Road.  Pic: Fife Photo Agency

SJM Mortgage Company on Factory Road. Pic: Fife Photo Agency

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A Kirkcaldy lettings firm accused of withholding deposit and rent money from clients is now at the centre of a criminal investigation.

SJM Mortgages and Estate Agents Ltd on Factory Road, which now appears closed, has been the subject of complaints stretching back months.

A Police Scotland spokesman confirmed: “Police in Fife are investigating reports of fraudulent activity at an estate agents in Kirkcaldy.

“Our inquiries are ongoing.”

The Press understands at least 19 people have come forward with complaints but no representative from the firm has, to date, made a public comment.

MSP David Torrance commented: “An alarming number of constituents have now contacted me regarding their experiences.

“It has become distressingly clear that many landlords and tenants have lost considerable sums of money through rent payments via SJM.”

Mr Torrance’s team met with representatives from Fife Trading Standards and police last week.

He said: “Their investigations are now well underway and I am working closely with them to offer support in uncovering the full story of what has happened with SJM.”

Mr Torrance urged anyone affected, who had not already done so, to make contact with Citizens Advice as soon as possible on 03454 040506.

He added: “I have no intention of being complacent with this issue.

“The authorities involved share my conviction that this matter must be dealt with as urgently and as thoroughly as possible and that those responsible must be held accountable for their actions.”

According to Companies House, SJM Mortgages and Estate Agents Ltd dissolved in 2009.

One landlord, who told the Press she was out of pocket by over £1400 in rent due in recent months, said the firm claimed a tenant had failed to pay.

It later emerged the tenant had paid the rent and she contacted police but they advised the dispute was a civil matter.

Retaining deposits is not, however.

According to the law, lettings agents have a maximum of 30 working days to transfer money to a third-party tenants’ desposit scheme, or risk facing criminal charges.

Dawn Adamson, Lead Trading Standards Officer with Fife Council stated: “Trading Standards are working in partnership with Police Scotland in relation to an ongoing investigation.”