A formal investigation is set to be launched into SJM Mortgage and Estate Agents after a flood of clients claimed rent and desposit money had gone missing.
Since last week a dozen new cases were lodged with Kirkcaldy MSP David Torrance but, according to sources, that figure could be “just the tip of the iceberg”.
Meanwhile, repeated attempts by the Press to contact a representative of SJM have met with no response and the office on Factory Road remains closed.
Mr Torrance said: “The bizarre situation with SJM has now been ongoing for several weeks.
“More and more constituents have been approaching me to raise their concerns and it is increasingly clear that something is seriously wrong.”
He continued: “It appears that the company is no longer in operation, and may not have existed as a legal entity for some time.
“I would call on those responsible to come clean.
“Tenants and landlords deserve clarity, and it is completely unacceptable that money has gone missing.”
Mr Torrance concluded: “It is my understanding that Fife Trading Standards are investigating this thoroughly.
‘‘I would hope it is given top priority given the alarming number of people affected.
“I also believe that this should now be fully investigated by the police, as we could be witnessing serious fraud on a considerable scale.”
According to Companies House, SJM Mortgages and Estate Agents Ltd dissolved in 2009.
Paul Maksymuik was previously listed as a director but holds no current directorships. His listed home address on the register is up for sale for £385,000 - £71,000 under the home valuation report - through SJM.
One landlord, who told the Press she was out of pocket by over £1400 in rent due in recent months, said Mr Maksymuik 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.
While not commenting on the specific case, Dawn Adamson, Lead Trading Standards Officer said: “I would advise anyone who is worried about their situation to get in contact with the Citizen’s Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.”
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