Director of The Leasing Advisory Service, Robert Shaw, said he had seen organisations charged over £175,000 for a £10,000 photocopier in a scandal which he claims could be bigger than the mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance outrage.
Set up two years ago, the Hampton-in-Arden company recently featured as experts in a BBC Panorama special investigating schools brought to the brink of bankruptcy by firms offering punitive leases on items such as computers and photocopiers.
The law breaking firms touting these leases are breaking the rules of their own regulatory body.
Mr Shaw, who runs and owns the company with fellow directors Martin Tucker and Simon Lloyd, said: “These companies have been ripping people off for years. People are having the money sucked out of their businesses by these cowboys.
“It’s a massive problem.”
“A lot of people think once they’ve signed the leasing contract, that’s it. They’re stuffed.
“Suppliers are being given a cheque book to make a lot of money.
“Some of these crooks are going round driving Maseratis, living in million pound houses, while siphoning out money from schools and charities.
“It’s a national scandal. These toxic leases can permanently damage the survival or viability of an organisation.”
“From our investigations I would estimate that somewhere between 30 and 40 per cent of schools will have issues with their lease while 10 to 20 per cent will definitely have toxic issues.”
The Solihull firm is now fighting numerous cases including a £200,000 claim for a Wolverhampton-based secondary school, £60,000 for a West London doctor’s surgery and £170,000 for a vulnerable children’s charity.
“Some of our horror stories are schools because they’re considered cash cows,” Mr Shaw added. “We had one local authority, in the Midlands, who had to pay just under half a million to get a school out of seven contracts when it was granted academy status.”
The Leasing Advisory Service provides a free audit of a lease and in many cases is prepared to take on the case with their fees taken from the other side.
For more information, visit www.leasingadvisoryservice.com.