More people have come forward with allegations they are owed thousands by Gallery@HD1 after we revealed the owner had been holding back payments.
Dennis Goodridge, who owns the estate agent business, is accused of withholding tenants' rents from landlords, and keeping tenants' deposits.
The Examiner has been inundated with complaints since we first revealed the allegations.
Rachel Prior let her Greenhead home via Gallery@HD1.
Her student tenants paid their deposit and rent, but she is owed £2,500 in rent and her tenants haven’t received their deposit back.
She’s faced legal costs fighting the case as Mrs Prior took Gallery and boss Dennis Goodridge to the small claims court - and won.
She said: “I sat down with him on Tuesday and he assured me he was committed to paying.
“I said ‘pay me now.’ He said he couldn’t but offered to pay me a set amount each month.
“The students who lived in my home until July still haven’t got their deposit back. It should be protected by law in a guaranteed scheme, so why haven’t they had it returned?"
Kim Nguyen, a Huddersfield University international student, rented a Newsome property via Gallery.
There were issues with the electrics and the toilet wouldn’t flush so she spent months pouring a bucket of water down the toilet as a means to flush it. Yet requests for repairs were ignored.
Her partner Lewis Wright said: “When the tenancy contract ended they refused to return the deposit. They had also not protected the deposit in any approved scheme.
“The scary part is he is still trading and has houses for sale and rent.
“I find it unbelievable that they are still allowed to trade and that so many people are owed money.”
The couple filed a small claims court case against the agent and are waiting for the judgement. They have also approached West Yorkshire Police for advice.
Another landlord is still owed £3,587 - £2,312 for three months' rents on two properties; £300 compensation after an ombudsman investigation, and £975 in tenant bonds.
Last week we reported Mr Goodridge was expelled by industry regulator The Property Ombudsman (TPO) for witholding rents from two landlords.
He then liquidated his company, leaving debts of £193,803.
He is listed as a creditor owed £100,000. Other creditors include HM Revenue and Customs £66,826; and Kirklees Council are owed £17,500 in unpaid business rates.
He set up another company under a different name and joined another industry regulator, the Property Redress Scheme - a legal requirement for anyone who trades as an estate agent.
Now operating as Robert Charles ESQ Ltd, his membership of the new industry regulator is being investigated.
Peter Habert, TPO Policy Manager, explained: “If an agent has an outstanding award with one (industry regulator), they will not be accepted by another until this is settled.
“It appears the agent has attempted to circumvent this arrangement and we understand that the Property Redress Scheme are currently looking into the matter.
“We understand that Trading Standards are also aware of this agent, which may lead to questions regarding the agent’s fit and proper trading status.”
The Examiner has discovered that on Gallery’s Rightmove microsite, which Mr Goodridge is responsible for, it claimed to be a member of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) and Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA). Both organisations have confirmed he is not registered.
NAEA Managing Director Mark Hayward said: “The NAEA Licensed logo tells consumers that the company an agent works for is dedicated to professionalism and high industry standards whilst adhering to a strict code of practice.
“When estate agents are appropriating the logo and portraying themselves as members, it is misleading the general public as they cannot offer the protection, minimum standards, redress, indemnity insurance, ethics and codes of practice that goes with an NAEA firm.”
Trading Standards are aware of complaints about Gallery and encourage complainants to contact the Citizen’s Advice Consumer line on 03454 040506.
We have made repeated requests for comments from Dennis Goodridge.