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ALMO recovers council flat from sun-seeking fraudster

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ALMO recovers council flat from sun-seeking fraudster

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities, Legal, Local Government

Tracey Lees Tracey Lees

Barnet Homes has recovered a flat from the hands of a scammer - making it almost 40 properties reclaimed since it started a campaign against tenancy fraud in 2011.

An 18-month investigation led to the tenant of a one-bedroom council flat in High Barnet handing back the keys.

The tenant had allowed a relative to stay in the flat while she lived abroad.

The relative pretended to be the tenant but refused to meet with Barnet Homes staff, instead complaining of harassment in a succession of letters.

On her return, the actual tenant claimed to have always lived at the property. However, neighbours did not recognise her or her baby and she did not provide sufficient proof of residency.

She also made claims of harassment against Barnet Homes - Barnet Council's ALMO - and threatened legal action. However, she backed down when the case came to court and volunteered to return the keys. Court costs were awarded against her.

Under the terms of their tenancy agreement, tenants must use their council property as their principal home.

Barnet Homes chief executive, Tracey Lees (pictured), said: "We’ll continue to relentlessly pursue those tenants who cheat the system by renting or lending their homes. They are contributing to the severe pressures on social housing in Barnet, and that’s simply unfair to the many individuals and families who approach us for housing and who are in real housing need.

"We hope residents will continue to lend their support to our tenancy fraud campaign and get in touch if they have any suspicions that their neighbours aren’t genuine tenants."

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