AN estate agent has been banned from managing companies for five years after she failed to safeguard £28,000 of tenants’ deposits and rent.

An investigation into Jane Hipkin Russell’s conduct began after the residential sales and lettings agency she was a sole director of was placed into liquidation in August 2018.

The Insolvency Service looked at why Jonathan Waters Estate Agents collapsed and found Russell, 58, from Frinton, failed to comply with legislation requiring all deposits to be placed in a recognised scheme.

Russell worked for the Ipswich-based firm before acquiring it in 2014.

Investigators found it had no record of 11 tenants’ deposits totalling £12,000 that had been received between March and August 2018, while £20,000 of deposits hadn’t been paid into a Government-backed deposit protection scheme.

The company had also collected more than £7,000 of rent from tenants between March and August 2018.

This should have been paid over to the tenants’ landlords but had instead been spent in the general running costs of the business.

Due to Russell’s actions, the estate agents caused more than £28,000 of losses to tenants and landlords.

The Secretary of State accepted a disqualification undertaking from Russell.

The ban, effective from Friday, means Russell cannot act as a director of a company for five years.

Rob Sheils, senior investigator for the Insolvency Service, said: “A fundamental part of Jane Russell’s role was being responsible for safeguarding money on behalf of her tenants and landlords, something she failed to do prior to the company falling into liquidation.

“This disqualification should serve as a deterrent to other directors who safeguard money from doing likewise.”