Crooked letting agents have faced the courts charged with stealing tens of thousands of pounds of rent and deposits from landlords and tenants.

In separate cases, four letting agents were convicted for siphoning more than £550,000 from their businesses.

Landlords and tenants with losses have received little or no compensation, although police are planning to take action to seize cash and other assets from the offenders.

Amy Williams, 28, and Glen Austin, 46, ran Williams and Young, a letting agent in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands.

Williams took £408,000 from the business bank to pay gambling debts of more than £600,000 run up by Austin, who was her boyfriend at the time.

She also took cash from landlords and tenants, often renting out the same property several times and cancelling the let but pocketing the fees charged to tenants and landlords.

At Birmingham Crown Court, Williams was jailed for four and half years after pleading guilty to 26 counts of theft and fraud.

Austin was sent to prison for two and a half years after admitting theft.

David Whitefield, 44, pocketed £198,000 paid to Whitefields Properties as rental property deposits between 2010 and 2014. The firm had branches in Milton, Leek and Crewe.

At Stafford Crown Court, Whitefield admitted fraudulent trading and two counts of fraud.

He was given a two-year jail sentence suspended for two years and 300 hours of community service.

Recorder Edwin Coke said: “Don’t for one moment think this is anything like a let-off. If you reoffend you will face prison.”

Chandra Patel, 34, was sentenced to 10 months in jail at Kingston Crown Court, Surrey, after admitting two charges of fraudulent trading at an earlier hearing.

Patel ran Giraffe Residential in New Malden, Surrey.

The business closed after Patel took £27,000 in tenant deposits he should have safeguarded for landlords.