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Church loses hundreds of pounds to collapsed Swaffham estate agent

PUBLISHED: 06:30 20 June 2018 | UPDATED: 09:49 21 June 2018

Rev Andrew King from the Central Norfolk Methodist Circuit. Photo: Andrew King

Rev Andrew King from the Central Norfolk Methodist Circuit. Photo: Andrew King

Andrew King

A church says it has lost hundreds of pounds to an estate agent who has gone to ground owing landlords thousands.

Owner and director of eHomes Victoria Steele. Landlords say the firm owes them thousands of pounds. Photo: ArchantOwner and director of eHomes Victoria Steele. Landlords say the firm owes them thousands of pounds. Photo: Archant

An investigation by this newspaper last week found Swaffham property agent eHomes Limited failed to secure tenants’ deposits in protection schemes, as required by law, and owes landlords thousands of pounds in unpaid rent.

Norfolk Trading Standards has confirmed it is “making enquiries” into the firm.

And more alleged victims are coming forward.

Andrew King, treasurer of the Central Norfolk Methodist Circuit, said eHomes owed the church £1,100 in rent for a Watton home it let and also overbilled it for work.

The tenants paid the letting agent the money in March and April but the cash has still not been passed on, despite the church chasing eHomes’ director Victoria Steele, Rev King said.

The church’s solicitors could also find no record of the tenants’ deposit of £1246 being secured in one of the three government-backed protection schemes.

Solicitors told them in June the church would have to pay that money to the tenant.

Rev King said the church also believed it was overbilled hundreds of pounds for work on a boiler at the four-bedroom house.

In January, eHomes took £490 out of the church’s rent for boiler maintenance.

But Rev King, 48, said they had received no invoice for the work.

The boiler company later told him the work had cost £49.

Rev King also said the church had lost its £250 floating charge.

“We have resources which can cover the loss but the rent helps to pay the church budget,” he said. “It is an annoyance.”

After chasing eHomes for the rent, the last time the church heard from Mrs Steele was on April 12 where she cited computer issues for the delay in paying.

“We are being migrated to the cloud at the moment,” she wrote.

In May she said in an email to another landlord that eHomes was ceasing trading.

Mrs Steele has set up two more companies this year called Eclectic Property Limited and Love Norfolk Limited. She has been contacted for comment.

•Anyone with concerns about eHomes should contact Norfolk Trading Standards through the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

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