A landlord who stole tenant deposits over an eight-year period has been told to clear out his own assets in order to repay his victims, or go to jail.
The case is latest proof of how the authorities are going well beyond fines under tenancy deposit protection rules to use the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Tariq Zaman, 42, has been ordered to pay £36,960 in compensation to his former tenants, who were students in Leeds. The deposits themselves were worth around £5,000.
Zaman was sentenced after 18 offences of theft earlier this year, when he was given a 46-week suspended prison sentence plus 150 hours of unpaid work, but this month returned to Leeds Crown Court for a confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
The court heard that his benefit from criminal conduct was £48,600, but that he had assets of £36,960 from two bank accounts he held and the sale of his van.
Judge Scott Wolstenholme ordered Zaman to pay the amount within 14 days or face 12 months in jail.
The offences related to nine properties owned by members of Zaman’s family. Students rented properties for the academic year but on completion of the tenancy Zaman refused to return their deposits.
Several students obtained county court judgements against Zaman but he still failed to return the money and police became involved.
Det Con Jo Hind, of the Leeds District Proceeds of Crime Act Team, said: “The 18 offences he has pleaded guilty to cover a period of eight years but are representative of a wider picture. His practice of keeping deposits without any legal basis was on such a scale that the Leeds University Student Advice Centre took on extra staff to deal with the number of complaints about him.”
Article courtesy of Landlord Today