A sales and lettings agency which has entered insolvency is reported by a local newspaper to have offered vendors cut-price fees so long as they paid up-front.
Loc8 Estate Agents Ltd, based in the Merseyside town of Maghull, is reported by the Liverpool Echo to have left vendors, landlords and tenants out of pocket; its official company reports suggests it owes over £400,000.
The article cites vendors Steven Healey and Sophie Muldoon who were attempting to sell their home in the town; they were offered a cheaper rate if they paid upfront.
They are said to have handed over £1,070 to the agency’s owner Kevin Scott.
"We had our property with Loc8 but we started realising we were not getting any calls back. The phone went dead and the answering machine came on. The next day we found out that the liquidators were in charge” says Healey; he and his partner have now pulled their property off the market.
"We have not had any people coming to our property because [the agency] is not open”
The article says the sales side of the business is now itself up for sale.
However, Loc8’s website makes no reference to the troubles and still appears to suggest the company is looking for customers.
The site claims people can “Buy With Confidence” and says: “Loc8 Estate Agents are proud to offer an extensive and diverse range of properties available to buy within the Merseyside and South Lancashire areas.”
The lettings side is more complex but the liquidators are investigating claims about “the safeguarding of rental income and tenancy deposits”: the agency manages some 200 properties and operates as a let-only agents for others.
The Echo quotes an unnamed individual saying: "I have seen people outside panicking because they can't pay their rent. There are landlords who can't get access to their keys.”
The source told the paper: "Deposits have not been paid into the Deposit Protection Scheme, it's sad to say but I don't think these people will be able to get them back.”
Scott told the paper that the lettings side of the firm had been sold to an unidentified local company"who is taking over the deposits to tenants and the landlords”.
He said: "[If] tenants go with the new company their deposits will be protected. In terms of those who don't, it will be in the hands of the liquidators."
He would not confirm whether all tenants' deposits are currently protected by the Deposit Protection Scheme, and said that anyone seeking answers should contact the liquidators.
Again, Loc8’s website makes no reference to any apparent problem and appears to encourage landlords and tenants.
Under the headline “Let With Confidence” it says: “Loc8 Estate Agents offer landlords a full range of services to ensure a stress free let of your property, including online statements & payments, safety certificates, deposit protection and much more.”
Estate Agent Today has left telephone and email messages for the company at the end of last week and over the weekend; a recorded message on the number advertised on Loc8’s website advises that the opening hours for the firm remain 9.30am until 3pm Tuesday to Friday, and gives another number for additional enquiries.
This number did not pick up when tried by EAT.
Meanwhile the Liverpool Echo says Loc8’s latest accounts filed to Companies House, as of December 2018, showed the firm owed £413,157 to its creditors.
A notice filed in the London Gazette last week said the company had entered insolvency and the process was being handled by Manchester based firm Path Business Recovery Ltd.