A dodgy letting agent has been jailed after he helped himself to £27,000 of landlords’ money and then closed his business.

Chandra Patel, 34, took the money from 17 landlords to cover his own debts after they had entrusted him with the cash to secure tenant deposits.

The director of Giraffe Residential in Kingston, south west London, helped himself to the funds between February and October 2014 as the company went into debt.

He told landlords in December that Giraffe was being dissolved and “no payments can be made”, leaving landlords to reimburse their tenants out of their own pockets.

Patel, a father-of-three, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraudulent trading at a previous hearing at Kingston Crown Court and jailed for ten months on Friday.

He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge to be calculated at a later date.

Sentencing, Judge Timothy Lamb said: “He traded well until 2014, when things took a turn for the worst. The defendant decided to help himself to the monies which he held in trust.

“I take into account the defendant’s family circumstances, I take into account that he is of previous good character.

“However, the defendant became part of a system of retail letting which was created in order to instil trust and confidence. He was plainly not fit to play a part in the system. He abused his position.”

A 47-year-old landlord from New Malden, who did not want to be named, said it will take him five years to cover the costs stolen from him.

He said: “I think it was the right thing to do – he had to accept the consequences of his actions. I had a lot of trust in them and a lot of money.

“It was absolutely shocking that he had taken so much. I haven’t covered the costs, I think it will take me about five years. He made no attempt to pay anything, he had so many opportunities.”

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