Landlord rumbled for taking £40k whisky in lieu of rent

A landlord has been found guilty of being in possession of stolen goods, having accepted £40,000 worth of stolen whisky in lieu of a £1,400 rent payment.

The seven bottles of Brora 1977 recovered by police were said to be worth a total of £12,250

Police caught Kenneth McLean, 48 of Avonbridge near Falkirk, with 57 bottles of rare malt whiskey hidden in his loft while investigating the theft of valuable whisky from a storage vault in Grangemouth, used by drinks giant Diageo, last July.

As reported by the Rental Landlords Association (RLA), the recovered bottles included nine bottles of 37-year-old Port Ellen, worth £2,500 each, seven bottles of 38-year-old Brora 1977, worth a total of £12,250, and a £500 bottle of Coal Ila 30-year-old.

None of the bottles, which had a total value of £39,272, had been duty-paid and could not have been legally sold in the UK

McLean claimed he had bought the whisky for cash, paying up to £2,500 for some of the bottles, telling officers that he intended to keep the whiskies for five or 10 years, then sell them at a profit.

However McLean later told social workers that he had accepted the stolen whisky as rent and had been “wilfully blind” to the probability they were stolen, with his solicitor adding that McLean acknowledged that he had been “extremely foolish.”

The landlord was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid community service by Falkirk Sheriff Court for possessing stolen goods.

The RLA used the case to remind landlords that even if tenants are struggling to make rent payments, accepting alternatives to rent is not advised.

“Landlords should always ensure tenants are fully referenced and if the referencing suggests that tenants may struggle to make rent payments it is a good idea to have guarantors”, it added.

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