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Showing posts with label illegal sub-letting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label illegal sub-letting. Show all posts

15 May 2019

Polish woman illegally let social housing

Magistrates have ordered a social housing tenant to repay thousands of pounds of rent she received by illegally subletting the Banbury property.

Rogue landlady Justyna Koczela, 43, of Zaulek Wisniowy, Poland was ordered to pay £6,254.90, comprising a fine, unlawful profit order, costs, and a victim surcharge.

Meanwhile the family who innocently rented the house are waiting to be rehoused.

A Cherwell District Council spokesman said: “A Banbury family is being supported into new accommodation after their former landlady was convicted of illegally renting out social housing".

The offence began in November 2017 when a member of the family rented the property in good faith from Koczela, who assured them that she was the owner. The residence is in fact the property of social landlord Sanctuary Housing.

Graeme Kane, Cherwell’s chief operating officer, said: “This conviction will leave people in no doubt that we will act to protect the district’s social housing stock for the people who really need it.

“The tenants are the real victims in this case. They had moved into the property in good faith and have had to endure considerable disruption through no fault of their own. I am pleased that we have been able to allocate a new home to them through the housing register.”

The defendant has now moved out of the country and did not appear in court.

When the tenants were made aware that they were living in an illegally sublet property they were eager to do the right thing and promptly contacted the council and the police for advice. They are expected to move into their new home in the coming fortnight.

Source

9 May 2019

Ipswich woman must repay £93k after illegally sub-letting council house

An Ipswich woman who was jailed for illegally sub-letting her council home and then buying it at a large discount has been ordered to repay more than £93,000 to Ipswich Borough Council.

Before Ipswich Crown Court on Wednesday, May 8, for a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act via a prison video link was Janice George, 60, who was jailed for ten months in December.

The court heard that George had lied to Ipswich Borough Council by falsely claiming she had lived at the property in Ulster Avenue, Ipswich, for five years and had used the right to buy scheme to purchase a £70,000 home for just £21,000 - a 70% discount - in 2015.

She was in fact living with a partner in Wallace Road and renting the Ulster Avenue flat to others for up to £450 per month in that time.

Between 2010 and 2015, George had received an estimated £27,000 in rent and letting agent fees.

Richard Kelly, prosecuting, said George's benefit from her offending was £93,500 and she had assets of £96,800.

Judge Rupert Overbury made a confiscation order in the sum of £93,500 to be paid as compensation to Ipswich Borough Council.

Source

11 Apr 2019

Sentence on sub-letting solicitor upheld

A man caught subletting his council home in Lewisham while working in Birmingham as a solicitor has had his criminal sentence upheld after a failed appeal. (h/t Cornerstone)

Rahand Raza, 39, appealed the 12-week sentence, which was suspended for two years, after he was prosecuted in Bexley Magistrates' Court in May of last year.

He was living in Birmingham when he spent over three years illegally subletting his council home.

Kevin Sheehan, executive director of customer services, said: "Social housing is vital for those people who are in genuine housing need and we will always prosecute those who try to cheat the system."

The judge handed him a suspended jail sentence under the Prevention of Social Housing Act and Mr Raza was ordered to pay legal costs of £5,000.

He also had to pay back his profits of £3,496.

Lewisham Home’s Tenancy Audit Team became aware of the subletting allegations when people were seen moving out of the home.

It was later found that Mr Raza applied for the "right to buy" scheme while others lived in the flat.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has been made aware of the conviction.

Source

25 Mar 2019

Man jailed for illegal sub-letting

A pub landlord who cost local taxpayers almost £250,000 by subletting his council house has been jailed for two years.

John Bristow had a property provided by the borough for more than 12 years even though he was living and working at The Bakers Arms in Upper Stratton.

As well as depriving a needy family of a home – costing taxpayers £219,000 – the 66-year-old even let it out, making profit on the rent.

And he told the woman to whom he was subletting to lie to the council about why she was living there and not to register her name and address with them for anything.

When he was questioned he said he had kept hold of the Penhill house for his retirement, or in case his relationship or pub tenancy collapsed.

Harry Ahuja, prosecuting, told how Bristow was given an temporary tenancy at a house on Abbey View Road, Moredon, from August 2003 to November 2005.

He was then given a secure tenancy for a two-bed house on Imber Road, Penhill, but by then he was living at a pub. In March 2005 he and partner Kathy Kelly got the tenancy of The Bakers Arms on Beechcroft Road, where they still live. But he kept the house until the council took it back in October 2017 after an investigation.

And it was discovered that in 2011 he had sublet the house to a woman charging her £100 a week while he was paying the council £60, raising to £80 a week. Over the six-year period it could be proved he had a tenant in the house Mr Ahuja said he had made a profit of £3,699.

The court was told that it could not be established whether he had anyone else living there before her.

When he was questioned by the council he initially claimed he had been living at the two homes with his sons, even though his partner told investigators otherwise.

As a result of the extra inquiries he said the costs to the council of the case totalled £20,148, making the total loss to them nearly £240k.

Bristow pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and deception between April 1, 2005, and May 30, 2017.

Susan Cavendar, defending, said the offences were caused by him trying to seek stability for his family. After his marriage collapsed in the early noughties he wanted a home for him and his children and was never sure how long the pub job would last. “He thought if he held on to it if he would retire there or the job would end and the tenancy go,” she said.

Jailing him Judge Robert Pawson said “This country is going through a period of almost unprecedented austerity. In housing terms it doesn’t have property to hand over to someone like you to profit from. The waiting list at the start was 15,000 people, the waiting list at the end was 3,000 people.

“As a result people on the emergency housing list have had to be housed by the council at a conservative estimate that costs a little more than £18,000 per annum. And that loss of money, and it is a loss of money has to be made up by council tax payers in the Swindon area.

“It comes down to your dishonesty and your selfishness. You are remorseful. This went on for 12 years. You were only sorry when you were caught.”

Swindon Borough Council has welcomed the outcome of the jailing of Bristow.

Councillor Cathy Martyn, cabinet member for housing and public safety, said: “I hope it sends out a strong warning that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated.

“The welfare of our tenants is a top priority for us. We will not allow people to take advantage and abuse the system in this way. Mr Bristow’s actions cost the council almost a quarter of a million pounds and he took advantage of other people who were in actual need of a home by denying them that opportunity, preventing them from accessing housing to which they were entitled.

“We work closely with the police and I can say with confidence that people engaging in fraudulent activity will always be caught in the end.”

Source with pictures

15 Feb 2019

Light sentence for illegal sub-letting

A housing association tenant has been fined for sub letting his home.

Edwin William Peacock appeared at Barrow Magistrates Court in the first prosecution of its kind in South Lakeland.

Magistrates were told Peacock, 53, was the tenant of an SLH property in Windermere, but he lived in a house in Oxenholme.

Suspicions were raised when Peacock applied to purchase the SLH property under the Right to Buy scheme. Investigations found that Peacock had a mortgage on his residence in Oxenholme, that he lived there and that utility bills for the SLH property were in the name of another person.

Peacock faced one charge of sub-letting.He was fined £466 and ordered to pay £1,140 costs and a £46 victim surcharge.

Katie Booth, SLDC’s corporate anti-fraud officer, said: “Sub-letting in this way deprives social housing to deserving residents and costs South Lakeland District Council money in providing Bed and Breakfast accommodation to unhoused tenants.

"There is currently a 12-year waiting list for properties of this type in Windermere and offences like this increases waiting time for prospective tenants. People who could otherwise be housed lose out because of fraudsters sub-letting.

“If allegations or evidence of such behaviour comes to light we will investigate and prosecute. We hope this sentence will send out a warning that this type of behaviour is not acceptable and could lead to serious consequences for the perpetrators.”

Alison Kinnon, director of customers and communities at South Lakes Housing, said: “There are almost 3,000 people in South Lakeland who need an affordable home, so it is absolutely right that we tackle those who fraudulently abuse this much-needed asset.

"As this case has proved, people who think that they are getting away with it get found out in the end. We are working closely with South Lakeland District Council to investigate other people who are suspected of committing tenancy fraud.”

Now other housing association tenants in South Lakeland have been warned that sub-letting their properties to others is illegal and could land them in court.

Source

13 Feb 2019

Light sentence for illegal sub-letting

A Cheltenham man has been fined nearly £500 for illegally sub-letting his flat.

John Stevens, 55, had been a long time tenant of his Newton Road social housing flat, but moved out to live with his girlfriend and did not tell the landlord.

At the same time, Stevens rented the flat out to a friend, illegally sub-letting the Cheltenham Borough Homes (CBH) property.

Following a tip-off, Stevens was visited by CBH officers and terminated his tenancy on the flat shortly after, but not before his crime was brought to light.

CBH prosecuted him under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013.

Stevens told Cheltenham Magistrates' Court that he thought he was helping a friend by allowing them to stay at his flat.

The magistrates took his guilty plea and means into account ahead of handing out their sentence. He was fined £300 and ordered to pay a £30 victim surcharge and £50 towards prosecution costs.

The flat was quickly re-let to new tenants who had been waiting for a property to become available.

Caroline Walker, head of community services at CBH, said: “Illegal sub-letting of social houses prevents people who genuinely need them from getting access to homes. This is a good result for us, not least because it helped to give a home to someone but also because it sends a strong message to people considering sub-letting. We will find out and you will be prosecuted.”

Source

9 Jan 2019

Illegal sub-letting brings heavy penalties

A "despicable" fraudster must pay £42,000 after illegally subletting her council flat for more than 10 years.

Pfavai McNab, a hair and beauty salon owner from Southampton, received a two-year suspended prison sentence at Woolwich Crown Court after she was convicted of two charges under the Fraud Act in relation to the three-bedroom flat in Plumstead.

Known as Pfavai Chidavaenzi when she obtained the property in Barnfield Gardens in 1996, she subsequently married and moved to Southampton.

In 2017, under her former name, she submitted an application under the Right to Buy scheme to purchase the property from Greenwich Council, declaring it as her only and principal home, for which she would have received a £103,900 discount off the purchase price.

Council checks revealed she had married in April 2000, was living under her married name of McNab and had purchased a home in Southampton.

Further checks revealed she had left her daughter occupying the flat since at least 2007 and had also set up her own hair and beauty salon on the south coast.

As well as the suspended prison sentence, McNab must also undertake 100 hours of unpaid work.

She was also ordered to pay the council £35,000 within two years relating to the financial loss suffered by the council for having to provide emergency accommodation due to flat not being available for others in genuine need.

She must further pay the council's legal costs of £6,920 within six months. If she fails to do so, she will go to prison for one year.

Councillor Christine Grice, cabinet member for finance and resources, said: “Mrs McNab was caught out by her own greed when she applied to buy the council property, and her many years of not residing at the three-bedroom flat were identified. She has evaded prison. However, I hope that the £42,000 she now has to pay Greenwich will be a good reminder of her despicable actions.”

Source

29 Nov 2018

Woman fined for subletting housing association flat

A woman who illegally sublet her housing association flat while living abroad has been forced to pay back nearly £10,000 she made in profit.

Esperance Hakizimana had been renting out her flat in Rose Hill since April 2014 while living in the Netherlands.

The 42-year-old was caught after an investigation by Oxford City Council and Greensquare Housing Association.

The council brought a prosecution for unlawful letting of social housing and last Tuesday at Oxford Magistrates' Court she pleaded guilty.

Hakizimana was fined £500 and ordered to pay back unlawful profit of £9,768.68, with £3000 of it to be paid within seven days. She was also ordered to pay costs of £480.

City council board member for finance Ed Turner said: "This is another example that shows the effectiveness of the Fraud Investigation Team in clamping down on fraudulent subletting. By working with Greensquare Housing, the team uncovered and prosecuted the person who has committed this fraud, and who has now paid the price. This also means that a much-needed social home can be re-let to someone who is really entitled to it. Social housing tenants need to remember and adhere to rules on sub-letting."

Since its creation in 2015 the fraud investigation team has prevented fraud losses and generated revenue of more than £12m for the council.

A light sentence considering the length of time this woman denied accommodation to someone who needed it.

Source

10 Oct 2018

Tenant admits illegal sub-letting & 'right to buy' fraud

A father has admitted fraudulently trying to buy his Kilburn council flat under the government’s right-to-buy scheme – despite having lived in Watford for five years.

Ryan Cooper lived in Camden Council’s Casterbridge block in Abbey Road for more than a decade.

He was given the lease to the council flat in 2001, but ceased living there in October 2013.

At Highbury Corner magistrates’ court Cooper pleaded guilty to two charges and he will be sentenced at Blackfriars Crown Court on a date to be determined.

Along with the right-to-buy fraud, Cooper was convicted of illegally sub-letting the Abbey Road flat for five years between 2013 and 2018 after he moved to out to live with his wife and young son.

Camden Council has also made an unlawful profit order in hope of recovering £36,000 – the estimated difference between what he made in rent and what he was paying the council – from Cooper.

The defendant spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth and to enter his guilty pleas.

Prosecuting on behalf of Camden Council, Edward Sarkis told magistrates: “Under the fraud act, you are looking at medium-to-high culpability here.

“The second offence saw Mr Cooper submit a right-to-buy application. The application should be from someone who had actually been living in the property, but Mr Cooper had been living in Watford with his wife and child.”

Mr Sarkis added: “Having had the lease since 2001, he would have been in line for a considerable discount under right-to-buy.”

Defending, Jeffrey Lewis said; “Obviously Mr Cooper should get credit for his guilty pleas. He also handed back the keys to the property – Camden did not have to seek a possession order.

“At the end of the day we are talking about a man of good character, and I hope to prove this whether in this court or another.”

As he bailed Cooper to appear at Blackfriars Crown Court for sentencing, the lead sitting magistrate said: “We are talking about potential loss to Camden Council, but more properly the loss to the person on the council housing waiting list who should have been in that property.”

Source

27 Sep 2018

Three court hearings & mild punishment for social housing frauds

A tenant of Hackney Council has been forced to pay nearly £148,000, after an investigation found he had been illegally subletting his property whilst living elsewhere.

A shockingly large amount of money.

Jeremy Matuba pleaded guilty in August to three criminal offences under the Fraud Act 2006 related to subletting his home and providing false information on two right to buy applications.

Matuba received a two year suspended prison sentence, 250 hours community service and a three month curfew.

The criminal prosecution followed separate proceedings in the civil court to end the tenancy, which resulted in an award of outright possession to the council.

This legal procedure forces inefficient use of taxpayers' money.

A confiscation order under the proceeds of crime act was made against Mr Matuba at Snaresbrook Crown Court on September 19 for £147,998.97.

Here we are again - a third court hearing.

Ian Williams, the council’s corporate finance director, said: “Hackney is determined to ensure that our social housing is used for those genuinely in need of housing assistance.

“We will continue to use all available powers to take a firm stance against those involved in the subletting of social housing, which not only deprives families of permanent accommodation, but also places a significant financial burden on the council at a time when we are already working hard to deliver services that are valued by our residents, despite reduced budgets.”

Source

19 Sep 2018

Jail for illegal sub-letting

A housing association tenant has been sentenced to 14 months in jail after being caught subletting.

Anthony Rose, 45, illegally sublet his housing association property for more than six years.

Rose obtained the one-bedroom property from the Hyde Group in December 1996.

Hyde became suspicious of subletting when staff visited the property in April 2017 and found a woman living alone at the address.

Hyde’s tenancy team asked Greenwich Council's anti-fraud team to investigate and they visited the property and met with the current occupant.

She confirmed she had been living there since October 2015 and was paying a monthly rent of £800 to her landlord, Rose.

Council investigators also found that prior to his current tenant Rose had also sublet the property to various other people from July 2011 and that his bank accounts showed a rental income from July 2011 to December 2017 totalling more than £57,000.

In January 2018 council investigators invited Rose for interview, but he refused on advice from his lawyer.

He then claimed the woman living at the property was his girlfriend and he was living there with her, but this was denied by his tenant.

In March, after being shown the evidence against him, Rose offered to return the keys to the property.

He asked that no proceedings be taken as he did not want a criminal record, but he was taken to court.

Rose appeared at Woolwich Crown Court and pleaded guilty to offences relating to the Fraud Act 2006 and the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013.

Councillor Christine Grice, cabinet member for finance and resources, said: “Mr Rose deprived genuine people of much-needed accommodation for many years and made a substantial profit from his despicable actions.

"The council has submitted an application under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to recover the money Mr Rose made from the illegal subletting.

"Just because you give the keys back doesn’t mean you won’t be prosecuted and lose the profits of any illegal activities.”

Source

18 Sep 2018

Tory council candidate had social housing fraud conviction

A Conservative party candidate for this year’s local election has a criminal conviction for tenancy and benefit fraud.

A BBC investigation showed how Richard Kays, also known as Richard Kagumya, illegally sublet a council property in Ilford, making £400 per month in unlawful profits back in 2016.

But his previous conviction only came to light in a BBC documentary broadcast on Monday, September 10.

Despite his criminal conviction, Mr Kays was still selected by the Conservative Party to stand as a local election candidate in Wanstead Park ward in May this year. He was unsuccessful.

He also ran an event for the party in the Houses of Parliament.

In 2016, the 29-year-old had also wrongfully claimed housing benefit of £400 per month whilst charging his sub-tenant £800 per month to live in the council property.

According to the BBC, his total profits from the illegal subletting and fraudulent housing benefit claims over a five month period came to more than £5,000.

Mr Kays was alleged to have shown no remorse for his crimes and was labelled “arrogant” by those prosecuting him.

At the time, he was sentenced to 100 hours of unpaid community work and had to repay costs of almost £2,000 to Redbridge Council and more than £5,000 to the housing association involved.

Earlier this summer, Mr Kays also organised and ran a children’s Question Time-style panel event in the Houses of Parliament for the Conservative party.

At the time, the event was criticised for the panel’s lack of diversity. Every panel member was affiliated with the Conservative party, all were white and only one of panellists was a woman.

Iain Duncan Smith, MP for Chingford and Woodford Green, was chairman of the children’s Question Time panel and had been invited to chair proceedings by Richard Kays.

Mr Duncan Smith said: “I understand Richard Kays was a member of the Leyton and Wanstead Constituency Association but that he is no longer a member. As I understand it Leyton and Wanstead did not know he had a conviction, it is of course quite wrong for someone to join the Conservative Association and stand for council, without informing the Party of any criminal offence. Each Conservative Association is responsible for their own membership reporting to Conservative Central Office. ”

In Redbridge, social housing makes up just 12 per cent of the council’s housing stock and there are currently 2,200 homeless families in the borough living in temporary housing in the borough, waiting for a permanent council home.

Cllr Linda Huggett, leader of the Redbridge Conservative group, said she played no part in Mr Kays’ selection earlier this year.

She said: “The matter has been referred to the Press Office at Conservative Campaign Head Quarters. At present I have no further comment to make.”

Cllr Paul Canal, former leader of the Conservative group, has been contacted for comment.

Harriet Bailey, a spokesman for the national Conservative party, said: “Richard Kays has resigned from the party.”

Source

A chancer

30 Aug 2018

Light sentence for illegal subletting

A homeless woman who was given a Derby Homes property has been dealt with in court after being caught sub-letting it to another family.

"Selfish" Marinela Langenbucher was given the property in October 2016 after becoming homeless in July 2016.

But she later illegally sub-let the home to a friend and moved to Shropshire with her family from August 2017.

Langenbucher's scheme started to come to an end when somebody phoned Derby City Council querying the council tax charge for the property.

The authority's counter fraud team was brought in and investigated and found Langenbucher had moved to Shropshire and had been sub-letting the property out which was a breach of her tenancy agreement.

She was interviewed under caution by the counter fraud specialists for failing to notify Derby Homes of the change.

She was summoned to a hearing at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates' Court on Thursday, August 2. She pleaded guilty to an offence under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013.

She was handed a £168 fine and ordered to pay £150 in costs and a £30 victim surcharge. Derby Homes has recovered the home, which is now being occupied by another family.

The city council said Langenbucher did not make a financial gain from the scheme but, by allowing her friend to live at the property, she has deprived another person or family who would be entitled to social housing accommodation.

Councillor Roy Webb, cabinet member for adults, health and housing at Derby City Council, is now urging people to blow the whistle on any residents they suspect are illegally sub letting their council property.

He said: “When social housing is in demand and we have waiting lists for accommodation this behaviour is selfish. Not only are people on our waiting lists being denied much needed homes but sub tenants are being put at risk of losing what they believe is their home. If we suspect that our properties are being sub-let, we will investigate and will prosecute if we have the evidence. I would encourage residents to use Derby Homes whistleblowing process if they suspect a property is being sub-let.”

Source

7 Jun 2018

Small fine for sub-letting council flat

A council house tenant has been fined after admitting subletting his Exeter home.

Dave Kelly, from Farnborough, admitted subletting his council flat in Clifton Road, Exeter, from September 28 2014 until August 2016.


He pleaded guilty to the offence at Plymouth Magistrates Court and was fined £325, ordered to pay back the £5,985 he gaoned by subletting the property, a victim surcharge of £32 and £450 costs.

The court heard that at the time of the offence, Kelly was working away in Hampshire where he was staying with his girlfriend.

He decided to sublet his council property to a friend of his mother and arranged for the unlawful sub-tenant to pay £540 a month into his bank account. This amount was later increased to £590 and then £610 a month.

An investigation, carried out by Plymouth City Council Fraud Team on behalf of the Devon Tenancy Fraud Group, was started after an anonymous telephone caller alleged that the tenant was not occupying the property but was instead sub-letting it to someone else.

After the case, an Exeter City Council spokesman said that social housing fraud costs the UK economy £1.8 billion a year:
At a time when social housing is at a premium, this criminal behaviour is totally unacceptable. Exeter City Council has a zero tolerance approach to fraud and will continue to protect the public purse. Fraudulent activity diverts money and resources from those who legitimately have need of council services and contributes to higher council tax bills.
Source

29 May 2018

Woman fined for illegal sub-letting

A Sheffield woman has been fined almost £10,000 for illegally sub-letting her council house, while she was living in a housing association property nearby.

Haffiza Khan, 49, sub-let her council tenancy at Netherthorpe while living in a South Yorkshire Housing Association property nearby.

Khan pleaded guilty to unlawfully subletting her council tenancy during a hearing at Sheffield Magistrates' Court. She received a 12-month conditional discharge and was ordered to pay back £8740 for unlawfully subletting as well as £150 costs in costs and a victim surcharge of £20.

Mrs Khan gave notice on her council tenancy in December last year following an interview under caution where evidence of the sub-letting allegation was presented to her.

Councillor Jim Steinke, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety, said: “Social housing provides security and stability to millions of families. There is an ever-increasing demand for social housing and Sheffield City Council is committed to investigating all suspected cases of tenancy fraud to ensure properties are lawfully occupied. We are pleased that Mrs Khan acknowledged her wrong-doing at an early opportunity and hope this sentence will discourage others from profiting in this way, enabling homes to go to the people who need them most.”

Unlawful subletting is when a tenant lets out their council home without the knowledge or permission of their local authority or landlord. The tenant will often continue to pay rent whilst charging the sub-tenant a much higher rent and may also have requested the sub-tenant pay a ‘bond’, something which a local authority does not request of its tenants.

Subletting a council tenancy is in breach of the Council’s Conditions of Tenancy and is also a criminal offence covered by the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013. As a result of this legislation those found guilty of unlawfully subletting a Council tenancy can face hefty fines, a criminal record and in extreme cases a possible prison sentence. Sheffield City Council has a zero tolerance of this offence and if found guilty the offender will also be excluded from the Council’s rehousing registration list.

Source

lllegal 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.

23 Apr 2018

Small fine for 2 years' illegal sub-letting

A council house tenant has been fined for subletting following an investigation by Plymouth anti-fraud detectives.

Dean Kelly admitted subletting his council flat in Clifton Road, Exeter, from 28 September 2014 until August 2016.

The 46-year-old pleaded guilty to the offence at Plymouth Magistrates Court and was fined £325, ordered to pay back the £5,985 he benefited from by subletting the property, a victim surcharge of £32 and £450 costs.

The court heard that at the time of the offence, Kelly was working away in the county where he was staying with his girlfriend.

He decided to sublet his council property to a friend of his mother and arranged for the unlawful sub-tenant to pay £540 a month into his bank account.

This amount was later increased to £590 and then £610 a month.

An investigation, carried out by Plymouth City Council's Fraud Team on behalf of the Devon Tenancy Fraud Group, was started after an anonymous telephone caller alleged that the tenant was not occupying the property but was instead sub-letting it to someone else.

Ken Johnson, Corporate Fraud Team Manager, said: “This case is yet another successful prosecution against a social housing fraudster, in this case one who was making a profit at the expense of those in genuine need. Fraudsters divert money and resources from already pressurised front line council services and should not be tolerated. This and other results should serve notice on offenders that we will not only combat fraud in Plymouth but across the region.”

After the case, an Exeter City Council spokesman said that social housing fraud costs the UK economy £1.8 billion a year.

“At a time when social housing is at a premium, this criminal behaviour is totally unacceptable," he said.

“Exeter City Council has a zero tolerance approach to fraud and will continue to protect the public purse. Fraudulent activity diverts money and resources from those who legitimately have need of council services and contributes to higher council tax bills."

Source

17 Apr 2018

Social housing fraudster must pay £54k

A social housing fraudster has been found guilty of illegally sub-letting a home in Islington.

Patrick Ofori-Sampong, 50, was found to have two homes, one with Peabody and one with another landlord in Waltham Forest.

He was illegally subletting the Peabody property while living in another he bought under Right to Buy. He was exploiting a sub-tenant who was paying him inflated rent.

He pleaded guilty to one offence under the housing fraud act and one under the prevention of social housing fraud act last month and was given a two year sentence suspended for 18 months, meaning he avoids jail.

Ofori-Sampong must also do 180 hours of unpaid work, pay an unlawful profit order of £5,100 and pay Peabody £45,000 compensation within six months, as well as £4,000 in costs. He surrendered his tenancy, freeing up the property for someone on the 18,000-strong council waiting list.

Last year the council only let 1,172 properties – to 6 per cent of applicants. The Audit Commission has estimated tenancy fraud costs the taxpayer £1.8bn a year and could amount to as many as 160,000 fraudulent tenancies in London.

Andrew Jeffries, Peabody’s tenancy fraud chief said: “We are pleased to have recovered this property so we can provide a decent and much needed home to someone from the Islington Council housing waiting list. Anybody who tries to defraud the public out of social housing can expect to be prosecuted and incur significant costs.”

Source

Social housing fraud is the most wicked form of welfare fraud. The sums that can be saved are huge, but it's so much more than the money - needy families are being deprived of the chance to have a settled home that meets their needs.

29 Mar 2018

Celebrity stylist fined for illegal sub-letting

A celebrity fashion stylist boosted his earnings by illegally subletting his council flat while he was away working for Prada in Milan, a court heard.

Marvin Maddix, 27, posted online adverts for a tenant at his Ealing council home, offering a short-term rental of the one-bedroom flat between January and April last year.

Despite paying just £81 a week in subsidised rent for the flat himself, Maddix — who boasts Victoria Beckham among his clients — charged his tenant £265 a week, more than three times as much.

Questioned by council officers who had spotted his adverts, he at first claimed he had been forced to leave the property because of racist and homophobic abuse from his neighbours.

Maddix, editor of fashion magazine FGUK, eventually accepted he had let it while away having an “amazing time” working for Prada. After a trial, Ealing magistrates found him guilty of subletting in breach of a tenancy. Meredoc McMinn, defending, said Maddix faces being evicted from his council home due to the conviction. The court heard he was housed by the council as a teenager after he had come out as gay and cut ties with his mother.

He graduated with a degree in fashion and media in 2013 and has built up a client list that includes Victoria Beckham’s New York business, model twins the Quann Sisters, singer-songwriter Sophie Beem and “hot felon” model Jeremy Meeks.

Prosecutor Hatoon Zeb said Maddix moved to the flat in Endsleigh Road, West Ealing, in 2011. When questioned last September, he initially denied illegally subletting or receiving rent but then said: “I’d found a job at Prada and it was an amazing time for me. I needed a bit of extra money while I was away.” Denying the charge in court, he said: “It was not about profit but covering my debt and not losing my home.” He said he stayed with the family of his Italian boyfriend Tom Cassani in Milan.

But magistrates rejected his claim of abuse from neighbours after hearing he had not complained to the council or police. “You must realise council property is scarce. There are vulnerable families with children and old people desperate for properties,” said magistrate Rita Biddulph.

“Families are stuck in hostels and much smaller accommodation, so you should be grateful. You must be one of the luckiest young men... to be given a lovely flat and you have made a profit from it.” She ordered Maddix to pay an unlawful profit order of £1,901 plus £1,750 in costs.

Source with pictures

19 Mar 2018

Deterrent sentence for illegal subletting

A housing officer who illegally sublet a council property she had never lived in has been jailed. (h/t tenancyfraud)

Julie Miah was handed a 12-month prison term and ordered to pay £17,000 in compensation after admitting she had never lived in the two-bed council property in East Finchley.

Harrow Crown Court was told how Miah was first given the keys to the council property in Prospect Ring in 2007 and immediately sublet it to a family member, while she moved into a house in Luton she had inherited.

Miah carried on the deception for 10 years until Barnet Council’s Corporate Anti-Fraud Team (CAFT) launched an investigation in April last year after receiving a tip off suggesting the person living in the Barnet property was somebody else.

Counter-fraud investigators linked her to an address in Luton after piecing together a series of financial records which showed Miah had never lived in the property.

When interviewed under caution by counter-fraud officers, she admitted she had never lived in the flat and immediately agreed to hand back the keys.

Sentencing Miah at Harrow Crown Court on February 9, Judge Hall accepted the deception was the result of a great deal of planning by the 45-year-old, and that the nature of her work would have meant she was aware that her actions were dishonest.

Miah, who worked as a housing officer for Central Bedfordshire Council, pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud by failing to disclose information. In addition to the £17,000 she must pay in compensation, she was also ordered to pay £3,174 in costs.

Leader of Barnet Council, Cllr Richard Cornelius, said: “At a time of significant housing pressures, it is totally unacceptable for someone to abuse the system in this way for so long, without ever having any intention of living in the property.

“Council homes are there for people in genuine need of housing, not for personal gain.

“I hope the custodial sentence and order for compensation handed down by the court in this case, sends out a very clear message about the consequences for anyone who might be contemplating something similar,” he added.

Source

27 Feb 2018

Housing officer jailed for illegal sub-letting

A housing officer who illegally sublet a council home has been jailed.

Julia Miah, 45, from Luton, was jailed for a year and ordered to pay £20,000 in compensation and £3,174 in costs after admitting she had never lived in a two-bed council property in East Finchley, which she was illegally subletting to a family member.

Miah was first given the keys to the council property in Prospect Ring in 2007, and immediately sublet it to a family member while she moved into a house in Luton which she jointly inherited.

She carried on the deception for 10 years, always declaring that she still lived in the property in East Finchley, but in April 2017 Barnet's Corporate Anti-Fraud Team (CAFT) launched an investigation after receiving a tip.

When Miah was interviewed under caution by Barnet Council counter-fraud offences, she admitted she had never lived in the flat and immediately agreed to hand back the keys.

Leader of Barnet Council, Cllr Richard Cornelius, said: "At a time of significant housing pressures, it is totally unacceptable for someone to abuse the system in this way for so long, without ever having any intention of living in the property. Council homes are there for people in genuine need of housing, not for personal gain. I hope the custodial sentence and order for compensation handed down by the court in this case, sends out a very clear message about the consequences for anyone who might be contemplating something similar."

Miah admitted to three counts of fraud by failing to disclose information.

Source