Press release

Director of Hove letting agency disqualified for 10 years after failing to protect customer money

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 Leonard’s 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 Direct’s 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 people’s money for the benefit of the company.

Notes to editors

Direct Residential Lettings Limited (CRO No.03305613) was incorporated 22 January 1997. The company’s registered office was 20 Western Road, Hove, East Sussex, BN3 1AE.

A winding up order was made against Direct Residential Lettings Limited on 30 September 2013 based on the petition of Peter Leonard.

Peter Phillip Leonard is of Brighton and his date of birth is 1 October 1956.

Peter Phillip Leonard gave an undertaking to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills not to act as a director for 10 years. The disqualification is from 10 June 2015.

A disqualification order has the effect that without specific permission of a court, a person with a disqualification cannot:

  • act as a director of a company
  • take part, directly or indirectly, in the promotion, formation or management of a company or limited liability partnership
  • be a receiver of a company’s property

In addition that person cannot act as an insolvency practitioner and there are many other restrictions are placed on disqualified directors by other regulations.

Disqualification undertakings are the administrative equivalent of a disqualification order but do not involve court proceedings.

Further information on director disqualifications and restrictions is available.

The Insolvency Service administers the insolvency regime, investigating all compulsory liquidations and individual insolvencies (bankruptcies) through the Official Receiver to establish why they became insolvent. It may also use powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK. In addition, the agency authorises and regulates the insolvency profession, deals with disqualification of directors in corporate failures, assesses and pays statutory entitlement to redundancy payments when an employer cannot or will not pay employees, provides banking and investment services for bankruptcy and liquidation estate funds and advises ministers and other government departments on insolvency law and practice.

Further information about the work of the Insolvency Service, and how to complain about financial misconduct, is available.

All public enquiries concerning the affairs of the company should be made to: The Official Receiver, Public Interest Unit, 2nd Floor, 3 Piccadilly Place, London Road, Manchester, M1 3BN. Tel: 0161 234 8531 Email: piu.north@insolvency.gsi.gov.uk.