An agent has been sent to prison after he and his former girlfriend admitting to stealing £92,000 from tenants and landlords.
His ex-girlfriend has been given a suspended sentence.
Peter Bell ran the Enfields franchise in Northampton, where it is understood that Rebecca Kirton also worked for a short while.
Bell admitted 15 charges of theft and dishonesty, while she admitted four charges. The money, thought to be mainly deposits but some rent, totalled £92,000.
The pair admitted their crimes in March, and on Monday this week were sentenced.
Bell was handed a sentence at Northampton Crown Court of three years and three months. He will serve 26 months in jail. He was also disqualified from acting as a company director for five years.
Kirton was given a sentence of four months, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 175 hours of unpaid work.
The sentences took into account their guilty pleas.
A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing is scheduled for June 19.
The office shut down suddenly in August 2015.
It has now emerged that this was after Enfields, whose headquarters is in Fareham, Hampshire, became aware of complaints from landlords and tenants.
Yesterday director Ian Soulsby told EYE: “That was the first sign of trouble and I paid a surprise visit to the office and effectively got a confession out of him.
“We immediately terminated the franchise and called in police.
“We also called in a reputable local agent, Your Move, handing over the portfolio to them in return for them sorting out the mess. As we had no local presence, we felt this was the best solution for the tenants and landlords concerned.” Soulsby said the arrangement had worked out well.
Enfields also clarified that the actual franchisee of the Northampton office was a company called Paris Lettings, which was run by Peter Bell.
Soulsby added that since the matter was uncovered, Enfields has now tightened up its procedures. “We require all our franchises to hold Client Money Protection insurance and to undergo an independent, external annual audit.”
On Bell’s LinkedIn profile, which can still be seen, it says: “We want to change the public perception of the industry by delivering excellent service to our clients . . . Most importantly we are people you will enjoy working with. We are business people that you will learn from. We are people you can trust.”