Haringey London Borough Council recently reported on a successful prosecution it had undertaken against a former tenant that had, after 19 years residence, made the regrettable decision to move elsewhere and sub-let her local authority property.
The prosecution was bought under section 1(1) of the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013:
“A tenant of a dwelling-house in England let under a secure tenancy commits an offence if—
(a)in breach of an express or implied term of the tenancy, the tenant sub-lets or parts with possession of—
(i)the whole of the dwelling-house, or
(ii)part of the dwelling-house without the landlord’s written consent,
(b)the tenant ceases to occupy the dwelling-house as the tenant’s only or principal home, and
(c)the tenant knows that the conduct described in paragraph (a) is a breach of a term of the tenancy.”
Showing the variety of sources of information, here concerns had been raised by a contractor who suspected that the tenant had moved out and another family were living at the property instead. This was in line with the Council’s Fraud Response Plan:
“2.2 Our ‘Whistleblowing’ Policy is in place to encourage and enable individuals to raise legitimate concerns, rather than overlooking a problem. The policy applies to all Haringey employees and agency workers and staff of Council contractors.
2.3 If you suspect fraud or corruption, you should raise your concern with your line manager. Failing that, you should approach your Head of Service, or Assistant Director. If you cannot raise your concern within your own service area, you should approach the Head of Audit & Risk Management.”
were initially raised with the Audit and Anti-Fraud team when a contractor suspected that Miriam Bailor was not living 174 Northumberland Park and that another family was living at the address in her absence.
The two-day trial found Miriam Bailor guilty of unlawfully subletting her property, contrary to section 1 (1) Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 and sanctioned recovery of any profit made by illegally subletting the property.
This is the latest in a series of housing fraud prosecutions this year, including:
- Lambeth LBC – a sub-letting where a right to buy application was submitted leading to conviction under the Fraud Act 2006.
- Luton BC – fraud by false representation and unlawful sub-letting conviction, which also involved a rejected right to buy application.
- Cheltenham Borough Homes – former tenant sub-let to a friend leading to his 2013 Act prosecution and giving up of his tenancy.
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