Illegal subletters' key amnesty' nets council homes and cash
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Housing, Legal
bdht gets the keys to School Drive
Newham Council's 'key amnesty' - an initiative to get illegal subletters to come clean without fear of prosecution - has led to the return of 26 homes.
The scheme, which ran between October last year and January, has also saved the local authority over £1.4 million.
The amnesty gave council tenants who were either illegally subletting their property or who had left it vacant the chance to hand it back.
Brought in last year, the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 means subletting is now a criminal offence, punishable by a prison sentence up to two years and a £5,000 fine.
During the amnesty, almost 50 people contacted the council, some to voluntarily hand back their keys, others to report illegal subletting. Tenants who admitted to subletting were given time to vacate the property.
Cllr Andrew Baikie, executive member for housing and customer service, said: “Tenancy fraud costs the council thousands of pounds and robs residents who may have been on the housing register for years of a home. Bringing these properties back into our housing stock frees them up for someone on the council’s waiting list.
“We have a shortage of high quality homes available and thousands of people waiting for a council home so it is imperative that our housing stock is distributed fairly. We know that the majority of our tenants live in their properties legally but it is important that we tackle those who are committing fraud.”