17 Sep 2014

Watford man dispossessed for illegal sub-letting

A law introduced to Parliament by Richard Harrington, MP for Watford, has been used to penalise a man who attempted to illegally sublet a Watford Community Housing Trust property.

Edward Cawdron has been ordered to pay almost £11,000 after a District Judge found he had unlawfully profited from tenancy fraud in Raphael Drive.

Cawdron was not living at the house and was advertising it in an attempt to sublet the property, despite owing the trust more than £3,000 in rent arrears. He had taken several deposits.

The trust brought the prosecution after seeing the property advertised for rent.

The District Judge ordered Cawdron to give up possession of the property and pay the trust £10,716.54, including damages of £4,700 - the amount he was found to have collected in deposits from interested parties.

The damages award was made under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013, which makes tenancy fraud a criminal rather than a civil offence.

It is thought to be the first time the act has been used in Watford to recover illegal profits from tenancy fraud.

Tina Barnard, chief executive of Watford Community Housing Trust, said:
It’s disappointing to see someone trying to play the system in this way, but the positive thing to come out of this case is that it sends a powerful message that we are tracking down tenancy cheats. We are also delighted that we were successful in getting possession of this two-bedroom house, which will now be offered to a family in housing need in Watford.

Illegal sub-letting of social housing is a wicked crime. It's not just the (considerable amount of) money - people and families who need a home are being deprived of it.

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