High Court orders two phoenix letting agencies into liquidation
Morgan Fox (Lettings) Limited, formerly Anthony Morgan Lettings Limited, which in 2012 took over the residential letting assets of Anthony Morgan UK Limited (in liquidation), has itself been ordered into liquidation in the public interest together with a further successor company, Morgan Fox Property Limited, following an investigation by the Insolvency Service.
The investigation found that the serious failings in Anthony Morgan UK Limited (in liquidation) were being repeated in the successor companies to the detriment of tenants and landlords and in some instances people were unaware that there were two Morgan Fox companies.
The failings uncovered included repeatedly not dealing with deposits from tenants in accordance with an authorised scheme as required by the Housing Act 2004.
Welcoming the court’s winding up decision Chris Mayhew, Company Investigations Supervisor, said:
Money that should have been protected was not safeguarded as required and tenants and landlords have once more been left out of pocket by the activities of these two companies.
For this to happen once could be considered as unfortunate, but to occur again is carelessness or worse.
Unethical agents who cause hardship and misery for tenants in this way harm the public’s trust in the rented sector and the Insolvency Service will investigate and come down hard on companies if they are found, as here, to be operating against the public interest.
The Official Receiver now appointed to wind up both companies’ affairs will be glad to receive details from any landlords or tenants who have dealt with either of these companies of any failure to repay deposits due by them.
Due to the inadequacy of the records and an intermingling of the companies’ affairs with a residential letting business operated by the director in his own name, the overall number of properties under management of Morgan Fox (Lettings) Limited (some 64 properties) and Morgan Fox Property Limited (some 42 properties) is presently uncertain.
The properties identified by the investigation were in Chingford, Harlow, and other parts of Essex and in North London.
Notes to Editors:
Morgan Fox (Lettings) Limited (07632264) was incorporated on 12 May 2011 in the name Anthony Morgan Lettings Limited. The name of the company was changed to its present style on 26 April 2012.
The registered office of the company from incorporation to 24 January 2012 was Trinity House, Sewardstone Road, Waltham Abbey, Essex, EN9 1PH; from 24 January 2012 to 13 April 2012 Thremhall Park, Start Hill, Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, CM22 7WE and from 13 April 2012 to present date Unit 8, Marbridge House, Harolds Road, Harlow, Essex, CM19 5BJ.
The sole recorded director and secretary throughout has been Darren Anthony Briggs.
The company’s share capital is shown to be 100 £1 ordinary shares all held by Mr Briggs.
According to the company’s only filed accounts for the period to 31 May 2012 the company had total assets of £3,380, liabilities of £3,267 and accumulated profits of £13.
Morgan Fox Property Limited (08756417) was incorporated on 31 October 2013. The registered office throughout has been 36A Church Street, Willingham, Cambridge, CB24 5HT. The sole recorded director throughout has been Susan Togwell. No secretary is shown to have been appointed.
No annual returns or accounts have been filed. According to the company formation documents the company’s share capital is 1 £1 ordinary share held by Ms Togwell.
On 5 August 2013 Mr Briggs was adjudged bankrupt.
On 30 August 2013 Mr Briggs undertook not to be a director or be concerned in the management of a limited company for seven years in connection with his directorship of Anthony Morgan UK Limited which had entered into creditors’ voluntary liquidation on 31 January 2012. The Disqualification Undertaking was accepted by the Secretary of State on 5 September 2013 and commenced on 26 September 2013. Mrs Briggs undertook not to be a director or be concerned in the management of a company form five years. Her Disqualification Undertaking was similarly accepted by the Secretary of State on 5 September 2013 and commenced on 26 September 2013.
Under the Housing Act 2004 any tenancy deposit paid to a person in connection with a shorthold tenancy must as from the time when it is received be dealt with in accordance with an authorised scheme.
The petitions to wind up the companies were presented in the High Court on 8 May 2015 under the provisions of section 124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 following confidential enquiries carried out by Company Investigations under section 447 of the Companies Act 1985, as amended.
The grounds to wind up the companies common to each were trading with a lack of commercial probity; trading with a lack of transparency; managed or operated by Mr Briggs in circumstances where he was an undischarged bankrupt and has been/is subject to a Disqualification Undertaking, and failure to comply with statutory filing requirements. Additionally in relation to Morgan Fox (Lettings) Limited there was an additional ground of insolvency. The petitions were unopposed by the companies.
Anthony Morgan UK Ltd (05411541) was incorporated on 1 April 2005. The registered office of the company from incorporation to 21 January 2009 was Trinity House, Foxes Parade, Sewardstone Road, Waltham Abbey, EN9 1PH; from 21 January 2009 to 30 January 2009 69 Bourneys Manor Close, Willingham, Cambridge, CB24 5GX and thereafter 32 Station Road, North Chingford, London, E4 7DA until 7 February 2012 when shortly beforehand the company had resolved to place itself into voluntary liquidation (see below). The recorded directors (apart from the company formation agents) throughout were Darren Anthony Briggs and Suzanne Christina Briggs who was also company secretary. The company’s share capital is shown to be 100 ordinary shares of £1 each held by Mr Briggs (60 shares) and Mrs Briggs (40 shares).
On 31 January 2012 Anthony Morgan UK Ltd resolved to place itself into voluntary liquidation with reported assets having a book value of £97,950, including a director’s loan of £75,000, all estimated to realise £54,178 and with reported liabilities of £116,180 including £72,542 due to HMRC. Nicholas Charles Simmonds of 34 Clarendon Road, Watford, WD17 1JJ and Steven John Parker of 11th Floor, 66 Chiltern Street, London, W1U 4JT were appointed initial joint liquidators. The company was dissolved on 13 July 2015.
In ordering Morgan Fox (Lettings) Limited and Morgan Fox Property Limited into liquidation on 19 August 2015 Registrar Barber said:
On the evidence before me I am satisfied that all of the grounds relied upon are made out and I am satisfied that it is in the public interest that both companies be wound up.
Company Investigations, part of the Insolvency Service, uses powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS). Further information about live company investigations 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.
By virtue of the winding up orders all public enquiries concerning the affairs of the company should be made to: The Official Receiver, Public Interest Unit , 4 Abbey Orchard Street, London, SW1P 2HT. Telephone: 0207 637 1110 Email: email@example.com.
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Published: 3 September 2015
From: The Insolvency Service