Illegal subletters get month's amnesty to own up
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Housing, Legal
Council uses CPO powers to take possession of 'problem' properties
Social housing tenants that are illegally subletting their homes in Croydon are to be offered a month-long amnesty to confess.
Under proposals to go before Croydon Council's cabinet next week, subletters will be allowed to hand back their keys anonymously during February, with the promise that no action will be taken against them.
The plan is part of a drive to crack down on tenancy fraud in the borough.
If it goes ahead, the amnesty campaign will also warn people that illegal subletting is now a criminal offence punishable by a prison sentence and a fine.
According to the council, tenancy fraud costs taxpayers £90,000 per property when taking into account the potential housing benefit fraud and the cost of keeping other households in temporary accommodation. Estimates hold that 98,000 homes are subject to tenancy fraud nationally, costing taxpayers around £900 million a year.
The council is urging the public to come forward and report any suspected illegal subletting. Tell-tale signs of the crime 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.
Councillor Dudley Mead, cabinet member for housing, said: “With a shortage of housing for those in greatest need of it, fraudsters who illegally sublet their homes are depriving struggling families of the right to a suitable home.
“This is a criminal offence, and while 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 it and think they can get away with it.
“It’s only a matter of time before we catch up with you. The warning is loud and clear – hand back the keys or you could face a prison sentence.”