27 Jun 2014

Oxford gets round to announcing keys amnesty

Back in October last year, Barnet Council decided on a keys amnesty to allow the keys of illegally sublet houses to be returned without any penalty.

Now the dynamic officials at Oxford City Council are planning to hold an amnesty from August (yes, that's August 2014) to encourage people illegally letting out their council properties to leave their homes without the authority taking them to court.

The Oxford Mail explains that it costs the city council around £2,000 to take a case through civil court without the tenant contesting it. For every person or family being temporarily housed while on the waiting lists, the council spends £18,000 a year.

Since 2011 the city council has claimed 50 homes back from those subletting them, says the paper, resulting in a saving of £900,000.

No ... that's the annual saving. Which is massive enough. Over the last few years, the saving has been several million pounds.

City council spokesman Louisa Dean said:
The aim of the tenancy fraud amnesty is to raise awareness with the public, not just our tenants and to encourage the reporting of illegal activity. It is also to make the public aware that sub-letting of social housing is now a criminal offence and therefore act as a deterrent to those considering subletting and show that the council is taking all possible steps to tackle the problem of the lack of affordable housing in Oxford.
Social housing fraud is the wickedest welfare fraud. The sums that can be saved are huge, but it's so much more than the money - needy families are being deprived of the chance to have a settled home that suits their needs.

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