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6 Feb 2017

Illegal sub-letter to be pursued for consequential losses

Dog hairs led to the conviction of a woman for subletting her council home in Blackheath for nearly ten years.

Greenwich council is flagging up that it has successfully prosecuted a 47-year-old woman from Bath for a tenancy fraud worth £71,000.

The council say Jacqueline Hunt was awarded the two bedroom property in a mutual exchange from a housing association in September 2006. However in 2014 reports that dog hairs were causing a nuisance on the stairwell outside Ms Hunt’s property were made to the council. It was then established that Ms Hunt wasn’t a dog owner and the property was being sublet.

An investigation by officers from the council’s Unauthorised Occupation team confirmed that the property had been continually sublet shortly after Ms Hunt had obtained it in 2006. Further enquries by the council’s Internal Audit and Anti-Fraud team revealed Ms Hunt left the London area in 2005 to attend a university in Bath and had briefly returned to carry out the mutual exchange. The council says at no time did Ms Hunt advise that she was no longer living in the borough.

In early 2013 she presented herself to Bath and North East Somerset Council stating that she needed accommodation as she was to be evicted from her private dwelling.

Ms Hunt who pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud and one of forgery was sentenced to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years at Woolwich Crown Court on December 16. She was ordered to pay Greenwich council £2,840 within two years.

Judge Katz QC also recommended the council to pursue its financial losses from the fraud which are in excess of £71,000 as it was deprived of the use of the full use of the property.

Councillor Maureen O’Mara, the cabinet member for customer services, said: “The demand for social housing within the Royal Borough is at an all-time high. Ms Hunt deprived those in genuine need of a two bedroom property for almost 10 years and sublet it whilst bettering her own education and obtaining yet another social housing property in Bath. It’s encouraging to know that the Royal Borough is working in partnership with housing associations and other local authorities to help investigate and prosecute these individuals for their actions. Indeed Ms Hunt’s actions were deplorable and her selfish act has cost the Royal Borough over £71,000. It’s good to see every effort will be made to recover these losses from her. Let’s hope she has learned her lesson.”

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