On 12 February 2018 South Oxfordshire District Council reported on a successful prosecution of a tenant under section 171 of the Housing Act 1996:
171.— False statements and withholding information.
(1) A person commits an offence if, in connection with the exercise by a local housing authority of their functions under this Part—
(a) he knowingly or recklessly makes a statement which is false in a material particular, or
(b) he knowingly withholds information which the authority have reasonably required him to give in connection with the exercise of those functions.
(2) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.
The tenant had failed to disclose, when applying to go on the Council’s housing register, that she in fact owned a property (which she was letting out). She had been living in the allocated property for a number of years by the time of the conviction, and the authority had been alerted to the situation by means of an anonymous tip-off.
This was the first conviction for housing fraud by the Council and appears to have relied on the effective follow-on investigative work of not only themselves and the landlord (SOHA Housing), but also Oxford City Council’s Investigation Team.
As well as the £1530 financial orders handed out to the tenant by the Magistrates’ Court in Oxford the tenant apparently, and perhaps unsurprisingly, now faces possession proceedings, presumably under Ground 17 of Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1988:
The tenant is the person, or one of the persons, to whom the tenancy was granted and the landlord was induced to grant the tenancy by a false statement made knowingly or recklessly by—
(a) the tenant, or
(b) a person acting at the tenant’s instigation.