Fears over lettings agency

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CONCERNED customers are desperately trying to track an estate agent amid fears they have lost thousands of pounds.

Anxious landlords and tenants are hoping to contact Helen Gregory, owner of Beechwood Property Portfolio, after attempts to reclaim money they believe the company owes them have been unsuccessful.

The alarm was raised after numerous people attempted to withdraw funds from the Deposit Protection Service (DPS).

As part of the Housing Act 2004, new legislation was passed which required all landlords to pay deposits on rental properties direct to the DPS.

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Clare Richmond, landlord of Darley House Lodge, began renting her property through Beechwood Property Portfolio earlier this year.

Her tenant paid a deposit – as well as a £50 DPS fee – to Ms Gregory with the assurance that the money would be paid to the DPS.

But after she struggled to make contact with Ms Gregory for months – despite daily emails and phone calls – she became concerned and called the DPS direct.

Clare said: “On Tuesday, November 5, I rang the DPS who told me the money had never been paid in.

“Helen needs to face up to this issue, whether there’s an explanation or not, as this is an absolute nightmare for us.”

Katherine Morton, who left her property in the care of Beechwood Property Portfolio, had similar concerns.

“We left a property with them in August 2012 but have since been informed that our bond was never put into the deposit scheme,” said Katherine.

“We were told by the DPS that, even though an account had been opened, it had been cancelled a week later so the DPS never received my money.”

The Beechwood Property Portfolio office in Matlock is currently vacant and the phone line – which until recently had rung out to an answer-phone – now appears to have been disconnected.

The Matlock Mercury made numerous attempts to contact Ms Gregory, or any Beechwood Property Portfolio spokesman, for a statement on this issue but this was not possible.

A Trading Standards spokesman confirmed: “We have received a number of complaints about a property letting agency and are currently investigating.”