Corrupt tenants offered 'no questions asked' deal to admit to fraud
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities, Legal
FraudImage: Fraud via Shutterstock
Corrupt social housing tenants in Lancashire are being offered a 'no questions asked' opportunity to fess up to their crimes.
Chorley Community Housing is offering the amnesty for illegal subletters until March - when it says it will use recent changes in the law to press criminal charges against offenders.
Tenancy enforcement manager Debbie Parkinson said: "The law was changed in 2013 and it is now a criminal offence to sublet a housing association property without the permission of the landlord. Offenders could get two years in prison and a fine of up to £5,000. They could also face a civil action to recover costs."
CCH's tenancy enforcement teams have identified 37 social housing frauds in the last two years, eight of which were in Lancashire.
The social landlord says that fraud is often identified as a result of tip offs from members of the public and CCH is urging the public to come forward and report any suspected illegal subletting.
Tell-tale signs include post being delivered to properties that doesn’t display the named tenant, different people seen coming and going and locks fitted on internal doors.
Debbie Parkinson added: "As a landlord we take the issue of tenancy fraud, whether it’s moving out and letting to a stranger or just handing the keys on to a family member without going through the proper processes, extremely seriously and we have a member of staff dedicated to catching tenancy cheats. This amnesty is a chance for people to come clean and avoid punishment before we come down hard on those who think they can get away with this.
“Tenancy fraud is sometimes portrayed as a victimless crime, but with a shortage of housing for those in the greatest need, fraudsters who illegally sublet their homes are depriving struggling families of the right to a suitable home. This amnesty is a chance for those who are breaking the law to think again and do the right thing. We will be coming down strongly on those that ignore the amnesty and think they can get away with it. The warning is loud and clear – hand back the keys or you could face a prison sentence.”