For those of you that don’t know, I founded a company called Smarter Housing in August 2005 with the aim of Raising the Standard (TM) of student accommodation. In the summer of 2008 the company was flying along, with a huge portfolio of student properties and, as recognition of my efforts, I found myself acting as an ambassador for several government enterprise agencies as well as giving presentations to budding entrepreneurs at schools and colleges around the West Midlands. To top it all off, I was invited into the prestigious Courvoisier Future 500 network.
Shortly after the birth of my son in July 2008, I found myself involved in a complicated divorce and pretty much lost the plot. I made poor management decisions and in May 2010 the company ceased trading as a result of a huge financial black hole.
At the time, there were lots of angry landlords who thought I had simply pocketed the money. Further to a review by SJ Accountancy Services (Leamington Spa), the fraud squad and the Insolvency Service, the majority of Landlords acknowledged I hadn’t stolen any money, rather, I made a giant hash of things. In short, I (yes, my staff – but it was my fault) failed to collect more than £200,000 in rent.
What happened to Baxter-Todd? Don’t jump to conclusions!
One of my former employees went to work for another Leamington Spa letting agency, Baxter Todd, taking a few Landlords in the process. I feel sorry for all concerned as, less than 24 months later, Baxter Todd has closed in suspicious circumstances. For my former employee, that pretty much puts an end to her ability to work in property ever again. For my former Landlords, they now face the possibility of being stung for a second time.
But why am I sympathetic towards Carl Baxter, owner of the Baxter-Todd letting agency? Well, much like I was, he is now being persecuted in the local press as well as number of property blogs. Whilst it is possible that Mr. Baxter is enjoying an extended holiday in the south of Spain, I suspect that nothing illegal has taken place.
If it turns out that rent and deposits have been stolen, I have no doubt that the appropriate punishment will be handed out. In the meantime, stop speculating and focus on what matters: getting your money back!
I am a Landlord affected by the Baxter-Todd closure: what do I do?
If I were you, I would contact Stephen Hughes on 01926 336 220. His companies can help with recovering lost funds and the ongoing management of your property/properties.
When Smarter Housing fell over, several Landlords opted to use SJ Accountancy Services to compile my non-existent rent accounts which prompted company owner, Stephen Hughes, to form S&J Estates. Both companies now trade out of my old premises on Spencer Street, Leamington Spa.
In many cases, Landlords have now been paid money owed by their former tenants (money that I should have collected). The majority of tenants paid when presented with rent accounts but some have been taken to Court. I continue to make myself available for trial dates, however the applications and paperwork have been handled by S&J Estates.
I am a Tenant affected by the Baxter-Todd closure: what do I do?
Many sources are claiming that Carl Baxter is not returning calls. From experience of this sad situation I can say that he may be receiving hundreds of calls per day and simply cannot respond to them all. Be persistent & keep calling any numbers you have available!
In the event you are unable to get in touch and fear for your security deposit, it is – unfortunately for them – the Landlord’s responsibility to pay you back. However, bear in mind the Landlord may also have lost money here so be reasonable and give them time to pay it back.
Such is the compensation culture in which we live these days, I have no doubts some of you will be thinking “the deposit hasn’t been protected and I will get 3 times that amount as a penalty payment”. Unlikely. Firstly, I know my former employee was pretty hot on protecting deposits so I’m 99% sure they will be taken care of. If not, a recent legal case has set a precedent meaning Landlords won’t get hit with the 3 times deposit penalty so long as they protect the amount in question – and they have up until the day before the court hearing to get this done.