Fake landlord is sentenced

A MAN who posed as a landlord and fraudulently rented out a Scarborough flat has avoided jail.

John Gilbert, 42, had previously denied fraud but changed his plea to guilty on the day his trial was set to take place.

Scarborough Magistrates’ Court heard that Gilbert had placed an advert in a newsagent in Victoria Street, Scarborough, offering a one-bed flat to rent in Esplanade Gardens for £75 a week.

A man responded to the advert and agreed to rent the flat, handing over £150 to Gilbert on November 14 last year.

However the real landlord turned up at the property, and it emerged that Gilbert had in fact been a tenant at the flat.

Kathryn Reeve, prosecuting, said: “The complainant went and looked at the flat and was asking the usual questions.

“The defendant said his name was Jay or Jason and that his mother owned the property.

“They agreed on £75 per week with no bond and two weeks rent up front.

“The complainant got the keys and moved into the flat. He stayed there and did not think anything was wrong, although he did notice a police interview tape and post with John Gilbert’s name on.

“Two weeks later a man came and identified himself as the landlord.”

The landlord had been looking for Gilbert, who was in arrears with his rent.

Shortly after Gilbert committed the offence, he was handed a prison sentence for an unrelated crime.

After he was released from jail on February 23, he was arrested and questioned in relation to the fraud in Scarborough.

Ian Brickman, mitigating, said his client had been aware that it was likely he would be sent to prison, and believed it would be “helpful” if he found someone to take over his tenancy at his flat.

“Where he went wrong was missing out the middle man,” he added. “One can see his line of thinking but it doesn’t stack up.”

Mr Brickman said that since his release from prison, Gilbert had moved to Ayrshire in Scotland in a bid to make a fresh start with his girlfriend.

He added: “He accepts that he is in difficulties today because of his previous record, but since his release there has been no further offending.

“He accepts that he will always be in some risk in terms of custody but I urge you to step back from that.

“He has attended court today to face the music.”

Magistrates handed Gilbert a 12-month community order with the requirement that he is subject to supervision and completes 50 hours of unpaid work.

No order for costs or compensation was made due to lack of means.