19 Nov 2013

Barnet reports success of keys amnesty

An amnesty for local authority tenants illegally subletting their homes has seen the keys to £2.1 million properties handed back to Barnet Council in a month.

Barnet housing chiefs gave residents illegally subletting their council homes until November 15 to give up the properties without fear of prosecution.

As the deadline passed 14 sets of keys had been returned. The council estimates that it would cost around £2.1 million to build the equivalent number of homes, assuming each unit cost £150,000.

The amnesty was a response to the introduction of the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013, which means people illegally subletting their home now face a jail term of up to two years, a fine of up to £5,000 and a criminal record.

The council said that information gathered during the amnesty would lead to further properties being recovered.

Cabinet member for housing Tom Davey, said:
This is an amazing result and highlights the importance of effective management of housing stock in London. This scheme has effectively generated the equivalent of just over £2m in capital and saved the taxpayer around £250,000 a year in temporary accommodation costs. I am very pleased that 14 families in need will now receive keys to their new homes.
Tracey Lees, chief executive of Barnet Homes, which is responsible for 12 of the homes handed over, said:
We are delighted by the spectacular success of the key amnesty campaign and look forward to welcoming deserving families to their new homes. We know the overwhelming majority of tenants occupy their homes legally and that they also share our commitment to tackling tenancy fraud. Well done and thanks to everyone who helped achieve this result.

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