In January 2020, a woman was left homeless after a conman named Patrick Matthews fooled her and several other people looking for homes to rent. Matthews, who has prior convictions for various offences, took deposits from the would-be tenants for a room that was not being rented out.
The Stuart Street, Clayton resident collected over £3,300 from different individuals in a months’ time. According to reports, Matthews regularly posted a room-to-rent announcement on a website for short-term private rentals called Spare Room. The list indicated the location as an area by the Etihad campus.
Every time a would-be lodger would get in touch with him, Matthews brought them to the said flat for a viewing. He would give them a tour around the room and area, including the parking space. After showing the property to his tenants, he would then ask for their deposit. He offered the services of a lawyer, his friend, for the tenancy contract and to register the money into a TDS or tenancy deposit protection scheme. Matthews typically asked for a deposit of £465.
He often pressured the would-be tenants to pay the money to him, threatening them by saying there were other people who were interested and ready to sign the contract. Prosecutor Julian King said that after Matthews pressured one of the couples, the conman did not provide any confirmation.
The truth, however, is that there is no lawyer friend. The would-be tenants did not get answers from Matthews each time they asked for updates. Some of the other victims knew they’d been conned because Spare Room got in touch with them and said Matthews engaged in fraudulent activities so his account was suspended.
Matthews’ last victim, the woman who was left temporarily homeless because of his scam, confronted him. She said the conman sent her an email where he asked forgiveness for what happened and then said the money would eventually be returned to her. Matthews also said she should get in touch with the police.
The woman decided to confront Matthews and then contacted the police so they could report the incident to the proper authorities. What he did had devastating effects on her as she did not have anywhere to go to for a while. She became homeless for a certain period. Since she just moved from Poland at that time, she had no immediate relatives to help her out. It made her lose her trust in people. She couldn’t find alternative ways to secure a deposit as well, so she thought she would end up living in the streets. It was an emotionally exhausting experience.
Matthews’ lawyer Robert Kearney revealed that his client has had a gambling addiction for some time. The conman also has mental health issues, which is a result of an accident that he figured in several years ago.
Aside from his current case, Matthews has also been convicted for several similar offences since 2019. He was given a suspended sentence and required to go through rehabilitation. Judge Elizabeth Nicholls wanted him to continue with the rehabilitation, so she handed Matthews a suspended sentence. The judge also talked to Matthews and told him the court was aware of all his conman activities and that he had to deal with those issues.
Matthews pleaded guilty to the seven fraud cases against him. Aside from a two-year suspension, he also received a custodial sentence of 20 months and has to spend 20 days in rehabilitation, and was placed under an electronically monitored curfew. Matthews has to pay his victims as well.
Tenancy deposit disputes
Issues in relation to tenancy deposits are common in the UK and Europe. Matthews’ case is just one of the thousands that authorities have to deal with every day. Tenants file disputes against their landlords for deposits that are never returned to them.
Tenancy deposits are required of tenants by law. They are to hand the money over to their landlords at the start of their tenancy. Landlords are supposed to protect the deposit by registering it with any of the three government-authorised tenancy deposit protection schemes. This guarantees that the tenants’ money is safe and landlords cannot use them for their own purposes.
Landlords can also use the deposit or a portion of it if there is property damage or other issues at the tenancy ends.
In some cases, however, even if the tenants have followed the tenancy agreement religiously and paid off their utility bills and rent on time and in full, there are landlords who refuse to return the deposit. One can also have a landlord who has not protected the deposit. In both cases, the tenant can file a tenancy protection compensation claim.
If you find yourself in this situation; or in a situation similar to Matthews’ victims, get in touch with a team of experienced solicitors. They can help you go through every step of the claims process, including the preparation and submission of requirements and evidence. Working with tenancy deposit experts will also assure that you are safe because they are authorised and regulated by The Solicitors Regulation Authority.
The experienced experts at Tenancy Deposit Claims are committed to helping tenants like you. They know how to increase your chances of winning a tenancy deposit protection compensation claim.