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26 Aug 2016

Illegal sub-letter goes unpunished

A council tenant who illegally sublet his flat while living elsewhere has been forced to hand in his keys.

The flat in Bemerton Heath was given back to the council after investigators found the tenant had not lived there for years. He had actually been living with his partner and had sublet his one-bed flat to his friend.

When shown evidence of his actions, the tenant surrendered his keys and terminated his tenancy.

It comes as part of a council crackdown on tenancy fraud. In the past nine months, council sleuths have focused on illegal subletting and abandonment.

Using the latest computer software and tip-offs from the public, 15 properties have been regained, six of which belong to Wiltshire Council.

Cases can be taken to criminal prosecution as offences have been committed under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013.

Anyone who is found guilty of illegally subletting parts or the whole of their home could be fined up to £50,000, receive a criminal record and could be sent to prison.

The main tool for the identification and detection of the tenancy fraud is through the use of sophisticated tenancy profiling software from Housing Partners called ‘Insight.’ The technology flags up where properties may be occupied by someone other than the tenant or the tenant may be living elsewhere. Using this intelligence, further investigations are carried out.

Dick Tonge, cabinet member for finance, said: “Although technology is an effective tool to help identify fraud, we still need people to let us know if they suspect fraud is happening – almost half of the fraud cases investigated have started with tip-offs from the public.”

Source

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