Tenancy fraud proceeds to be reimbursed to landlords, not taken by State: Shapps PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 11 January 2012 10:34

The proceeds of tenancy fraud could be reimbursed to social landlords rather than confiscated by the State, the Housing Minister said today.

Grant Shapps also vowed to give local authorities greater powers to investigate possible fraud, with councils able to oblige banks and utility companies to provide access to data. Currently, such organisations can refuse to comply with a request, the minister said.

The announcements were included in widely-trailed proposals for a new criminal offence for the unlawful subletting of social housing.

The minister said the offence would attract a maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to £50,000 if the case goes to the Crown Court.

The Department for Communities and Local Government claimed that “tenancy cheats” could earn thousands of pounds a year renting their social homes out to private tenants – “but if caught, may currently face no greater penalty than losing their tenancy”.

It cited estimates that between 50,000 and 160,000 social homes are currently being unlawfully occupied across the country.

Grant Shapps said: "Tenancy cheats are taking advantage of a vital support system for some of the most vulnerable people in our society and getting away with a slap on the wrist while our waiting lists continue to grow. It's time for these swindlers to pay the price.

"It would cost us billions of pounds to replace the huge number of unlawfully occupied social homes across the country. Meanwhile tenancy cheats can earn thousands of pounds letting out their property, which was given to them in good faith and which could instead be offering a stable home to a family in need.

"The proposals I've announced today would not only deliver justice to these fraudsters, but will also act as a deterrent to those who think they can earn a fast buck from this precious resource. I want everyone to know that our country's social homes are going to those in genuine need, not providing a 'nice little earner' to someone who could afford to live elsewhere."

Local authorities have already successfully prosecuted tenants for unlawful sublettng, however. Last year Camden Council became one of the first local authorities to prosecute a council tenant for housing fraud under the Fraud Act.

Oladapo Talabi pleaded guilty at Highbury Magistrates Court on 1 September 2011 to two counts of fraud. He had been prosecuted under sections 1 and 3 of the Fraud Act for failing to disclose information to make a gain and exposing the council to loss.

The defendant was given a community order of 12 months comprising 100 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay the council £750 in costs.

Philip Hoult

 

Latest News

July 29, 2014

District pays £3.6m to settle claim brought by housing association

A district council has agreed to pay a housing association £3.6m to settle a dispute over properties transferred in 1996. Read more
July 22, 2014

Housebuilder launches Planning Court challenge to neighbourhood plan

A housebuilder has launched a judicial review challenge to a neighbourhood plan with the Planning Court. Read more
July 21, 2014

Law Commission urges full reform project on data sharing and public bodies

The Law Commission has this month recommended that a full law reform project should be carried out “in order to create a principled and clear legal structure for data sharing, which will meet the needs of society”. Read more
July 21, 2014

NW housing groups selects 15 law firms for legal services panels

Progress Housing Group has named 15 law firms to a legal services framework with an estimated value of £800,000 over four years. Read more
July 16, 2014

Housing organisation names seven law firms to panels worth £1.25m to £60m

Procurement for Housing, a national organisation for the social housing sector, has appointed seven law firms to panels potentially worth between £1.25m and £60m. Read more
July 08, 2014

Council chiefs demand radical reforms to housing finance

Councils have called on the Government to give them the powers to help solve the housing shortage. Read more
July 02, 2014

Council and police raid 25 properties in two weeks in rogue landlord crackdown

Four previously unknown criminal landlords, two cannabis factories and an illegal restaurant conversion were among discoveries made by Lewisham council officers in raids on rogue landlords. Read more

 

Features

House key iStock 000004543619XSmall 146x219
July 10, 2014

For better or for worse

The Court of Appeal has just handed down an important ruling on the scope of statutory homeless reviews. Kelvin Rutledge QC and Sian Davies analyse the judgment. Read more
Energy iStock 000010421988XSmall 146x219
July 03, 2014

What you need to know about district heat networks

Mark Routley looks at the opportunities and challenges for local authorities presented by district heat networks. Read more
July 03, 2014

Article 8, the Equality Act and summary hearings

How should Article 8 and Equality Act 2010 arguments be treated when raised at a summary hearing? Senga Howells reports on a recent case. Read more
June 26, 2014

Challenges to the ‘bedroom tax’ and DHPs

Jed Meers analyses the recent High Court ruling in Rutherford and the evolving role of Discretionary Housing Payments. Read more
June 26, 2014

Local authorities, notices to quit and undue influence

The Court of Appeal recently examined whether a notice to quit was procured by the undue influence of a housing officer employed by a council. Jonathan Manning and Amy Knight explain the judgment. Read more
June 20, 2014

Becoming homeless intentionally

When was the relevant time for a council to consider whether an applicant’s homelessness was intentional? Chistopher Baker reports on an important Court of Appeal ruling. Read more
June 19, 2014

Variation of planning obligations

Kamran Hyder examines s. 106BA of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and the new process to modify or discharge affordable housing obligations. Read more

 

Older news and features

July 10, 2014

For better or for worse

April 10, 2014

Stating your grounds

Click here for full section archive

Now Previewing on LGL.tv: Social Housing Allocations: Law and Practice (Click on bottom right of screen for full size.)

Featured Jobs


CLICK HERE to search all current vacancies

Featured Courses & Events

50% off LGLtv subscriptions

Sign up for Courses and Events Updates

* indicates required

Services v2

Yellow pages iStock 000009762383XSmall cropTo access details of individual advertisers, please click on the relevant banner below.

To search all entries in the Local Government Lawyer Services Directory, please click here

 

 


 Shout_to_the_top_looking_left_iStock_000006002590XSmall_98x74 Latest Blog Posts

 

 


 

Ballot_iStock_000006080605XSmall_thumb

Snap Judgement

Will the SRA's decision to remove the 16 hour minimum training requirement...