A business appears to have closed down – with claims that a director has disappeared and that there may be money missing.
Local Trading Standards last night said it was aware of the case.
A Google review for CHQ Properties in Shepshed, Loughborough, apparently placed by a landlord in the last few days, says: “Darren has took a load of money and ran away abroad. His nephew who ran it for him Dan has deserted the now empty office, not replying to emails or phone calls, the office phone has been disconnected as well. The two young people have new jobs.
“All the while they are still meant to be managing properties such as mine and subsequently now owe thousands to landlords. Very unprofessional.”
An email has now gone out from CHQ Properties, which says the business has closed.
“We regret to inform you that CHQ Properties are experiencing major financial difficulties and have been left with no alternative other than to close down the business.
“The managing director, Darren Hickman, has abandoned the company and fled the country cutting off all communications with anyone in the UK.
“Since doing so, it has recently been brought to our attention that a number of tenants deposits have not been lodged into the correct schemes. As Darren was the only person to know about this debt, we believe this is one of the reasons he has decided to disappear.
“Due to the nature of the events taken place, we urge all of our landlords to find another suitable letting agent to manage your properties. Following this email, any rental transactions between tenant, CHQ and landlord will be commission free to ensure a swift agent transfer.
“We offer our sincerest apologies to anyone that has been affected by this terrible situation and will do our upmost to make sure that the missing money is replaced. We really hope that we can resolve this problem as soon as possible and thank you for your patience during this difficult time. Please do not hesitate to respond to this email with any queries you may have.
“Lettings at CHQ Properties”
One local agent in the area said that he was approached some months ago by a landlord claiming to be dissatisfied after not receiving rent.
It emerged that the tenants had also allegedly not received their deposits back. The agent gave them advice, resulting in the tenants physically sitting in the CHQ Properties offices until their money was returned to them.
Another local agent told EYE that in the last few days he had been to the offices of CHQ and left literature offering to help any tenants or agents. He described the office as deserted with the computers removed. He said he thought that the firm had been chiefly involved in sales, and may have had a relatively small portfolio.
On a Facebook page for Shepshed, there is a post appealing for “victims including landlords and tenants” to contact Action Fraud.
A Facebook thread has a number of people expressing concerns:
A spokesperson for the Deposit Protection Service told EYE that CHQ Properties had registered less than 15 deposits with the scheme overall, with ten of them still active.
According to Companies House, the company was incorporated in June 2015. Its directors are named as Daniel Hickman, who came on board in May last year, and Darren Hickman. Another director, Harry Bicknell, quit on September 1.
According to Companies House, there was a First Gazette notice for compulsory strike-off on May 2 this year, but this was discontinued a day later.
EYE has made repeated attempts to contact CHQ Properties but with no success. The business’s phone system appears to be down and the website is not working.
We will of course update you with their side of the story when we can.
Yesterday evening, a spokesperson for Leicestershire Trading Standards said: “We’re aware of concerns about the company and we’d encourage people to report concerns to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.”
Below, the screengrab taken yesterday shows how one landlord has voiced his concerns on Google