A student from Brent who illegally sublet her council house for four years has been sentenced to 130 hours of community service after an investigation by Brent Council's fraud team.
Kusheema Nurse, 26, did not tell Brent Housing Partnership (BHP), which manages council houses on Brent Council's behalf, that she had moved out of her council flat on Mordaunt Road after gaining a place at university in Bristol to study Law.
Nurse had been given the one-bedroom flat by the council in August 2010 – two months after secretly starting a part-time job 120 miles away in Bristol.
In June 2014, Nurse’s sub-tenant approached BHP to complain about being evicted without notice and told them that he had been renting the property since April 2011. Although Nurse had not given him a tenancy agreement or receipts for his rent payments, he had redecorated the entire flat at his own expense.
An investigation by the council’s fraud team followed, revealing that Nurse had started her Law degree at the University of the West of England in Bristol in September 2011.
It also showed that she had been employed in part-time jobs in Bristol between 2010 and 2013 and that a young woman was rescued from the flat by the fire brigade in February 2014 after a small fire broke out. The woman, a friend of the subtenant, did not know Nurse, who also failed to report the fire to BHP.
When interviewed under caution and asked for an explanation, Nurse chose not to comment.
She was prosecuted at Harrow Crown Court for offences under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 and the Fraud Act 2006, with Nurse claiming in court that she travelled to Bristol on a daily basis and continued to live full time at her Mordaunt Road flat. The jury did not believe her and found her guilty, with the judge sentencing her to 130 hours of community service, adjourned for three months to allow her to take her final university exams.
BHP is now in the process of repossessing the property from Nurse.
Cllr Harbi Farah, Brent Council’s lead member for housing, said: "Sub-letting social housing isn’t just selfish – it’s illegal. It clogs up desperately needed accommodation while lining the pockets of people who falsely claim to be in need. Brent Council and BHP will be relentless in our pursuit of fraudsters like Ms Nurse, ensuring that council homes go to those who have the right to live in one."