Illegal subletting amnesty yields results
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Housing, Legal
bdht gets the keys to School Drive
A council's illegal subletting amnesty has led to the keys for three properties being handed back, and to four reports of suspected housing fraud.
Croydon Council's amnesty, which ran throughout February, allowed tenants that were illegally subletting their homes to fess up with the guarantee that no legal action would be taken against them.
The campaign - part of a drive to crack down on tenancy fraud - aimed to warn people that illegal subletting has become a criminal offence punishable by a two-year prison sentence and a fine. Offenders are also liable to pay back any profits they have made.
The three properties in New Addington and Selhurst have now been freed up so they can be let to families in need of accommodation.
The four cases of housing fraud were reported via the council’s anti-fraud hotline.
Tenancy fraud costs the taxpayer £90,000 per property when taking into account the potential housing benefit fraud and the cost of keeping other households in temporary accommodation, such as bed and breakfasts.
It is estimated that around 98,000 properties may be subject to tenancy fraud nationally, at a cost to the taxpayer of £900 million a year.
The council is urging residents 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; or locks fitted on internal doors.
Councillor Dudley Mead, cabinet member for housing, said: “We’re delighted with the successful outcome of the amnesty.
“But those who think they can get away with illegally subletting their home need to think again.
“Now the amnesty is finished we will be stepping up our efforts to catch those breaking the law and depriving families of a decent home.”