Statcounter

25 Jul 2017

Newcastle Council brings first sub-letting prosecution!

A rogue tenant who made £29,000 renting out her council flat to students while living in China has been ordered to pay back the cash.

Lin Zhao qualified for a council house in 2005 and paid £66 per week to rent a three-bed flat in Clarence House from Newcastle City Council.

However, it has since emerged the professor was living in China and illegally sub-letting the property to students, pocketing £28,945 in rent over four-and-a-half years of a six year absence from the address.

She had converted the living room into a fourth bedroom, and between June 2008 and December 2014 30 individuals - mainly students - had lived at the property and paid rent.

When council officers caught up with Zhao and her scheme unravelled she tried to lie and claim the tenants were friends’ children and didn’t pay rent.

However, Newcastle Crown Court heard students living at the property told officers the truth and analysis of Ms Zhao’s bank records showed she had been pocketing the difference in rent.

Zhao admitted one count of illegal sub-letting and a further count of failing to disclose information under the fraud act.

Alex Burns, defending, said Ms Zhao had not expected to be away so long but had been caring for her ill father before her mother then took ill. He said Zhao had not been living the high life as a consequence of the sub-let and she was concerned at the impact on her ability to work as a professor following conviction.

Judge Deborah Sherwin at Newcastle Crown Court sentenced Zhao to 15 months imprisonment suspended for two years after she admitted two counts of fraud. The council had frozen funds held by Zhao in an ISA account after earlier court proceedings and Zhao has formally agreed to pay to the council the £28,945 that she had profited by the enterprise.

The prosecution is a first for the authority who have said they will not allow people to make a profit from council houses.

Councillor Jane Streather, cabinet member for housing, said: “Illegally sub-letting a council property is a very serious offence which carries a very heavy penalty if convicted as highlighted by this case. This is the first time we have prosecuted for a sub-letting offence and we will be doing more of these prosecutions so the message is clear; if someone is sub-letting they should stop now before they get caught and its costs them dearly. The council provides housing to meet people’s housing needs and not for them to make a profit.”

Wake up, Newcastle City Council!

Source

No comments: