Lettings management boss banned for abusing tenants’ deposits

A lettings management director from Dorset has been disqualified for failing to protect thousands of pounds of tenants’ deposits.

Kari Jade Ridout (46), from Blandford Forum, Dorset, was the sole director of Woodhouse Residential Lettings Limited, a lettings management company that began trading in 2013 predominately in the Dorset area.

As part of its services, Woodhouse Residential Lettings operated a government-backed custodial deposit scheme where in accordance with the Housing Act 2004 the company would safely hold onto tenants’ deposits on behalf of their landlords.

But just four years after the company had started to trade, Woodhouse Residential Lettings entered into Creditors Voluntary Liquidation in May 2017.

Independent insolvency practitioners were appointed to wind-up the business before submitting their report to the Insolvency Service. This triggered an investigation which found that Kari Ridout failed to safeguard more than £34,000 worth of deposits.

Investigators established that over two years between May 2015 and the date the company went into liquidation, Woodhouse Residential Lettings collected thousands of pounds worth of deposits from tenants in relation to at least 24 properties but did not pay them into the custodial deposit scheme.

Instead, the £34,000 was spent, along with general working capital, on the expenses of running the company.

On 16 November 2018, the Secretary of State accepted a disqualification undertaking from Kari Ridout for 6 years, after she admitted failing to ensure that deposits taken from tenants by the company totalling at least £34,610 were safeguarded, as required by the Housing Act 2004.

Effective from 7 December 2018, Kari Ridout is banned for 6 years from acting as a director or directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company.

Jane Knight, the Insolvency Service’s Deputy Head of Insolvent Investigations, said:

“Kari Ridout failed to safeguard the deposits she was entrusted to hold onto, resulting in losses to both landlords and tenants. Her conduct fell short of what is required of a director of a limited liability company and her disqualification will act as a deterrent to others from similar conduct in the future.”

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