Peter Phillip Leonard, director of Direct Residential Lettings Limited, a letting agency business based in Hove has been disqualified from acting as a director for ten years for failing to make sure that tenant deposits and rent payments collected in by the company were properly protected.

Mr Leonard (58), has given a disqualification undertaking, which will prevent him from becoming involved in the promotion, formation or management of a company until 2025.

Direct Residential Lettings Limited (Direct) was incorporated 22 January 1997 and traded a letting agency in Hove. Mr Leonard became a director of Direct in February 2007 when he jointly purchased the company. The company was placed into compulsory liquidation on 30 September 2013, on the petition of Mr Leonard, as the company was no longer able to pay the debts it owed.

An Insolvency Service investigation found that Mr Leonard had failed to make sure that Direct complied with its statutory obligations, under provisions of the Housing Act 2004 and its relevant approved schemes. As a result, he failed to safeguard tenant deposits and rent payments, collected in from at least 19 April 2007 onwards. Mr Leonard was also responsible for causing Direct to mislead the National Approved Letting Scheme, a regulatory body of which Direct was a member, by submitting false accounting information to them from at least 2010 onwards.

As a consequence of Mr Leonards actions, Direct owes at least 577,865 in respect of missing tenancy deposits and rent payments collected in and not paid over to landlords.

The Insolvency Service has been unable to account for transactions paid out of Directs bank account totalling 501,393 between October 2012 and May 2013

Commenting on the disqualification, Liesl Cook, Official Receiver for Brighton and Croydon, stated:

The public should be assured that the Insolvency Service will seek to disqualify the directors of companies that do not obey the law and use other peoples money for the benefit of the company.