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Sub-letting council tenants targeted by new law

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Council house tenants profiting illegally from sub-letting spare rooms are to be heavily punished by new measures, expected in early April.

According to The Times, penalties will disparage sub-letting owners while councils will be given greater scope to track down and punish those flouting the rules.

Sub-letting fraud is currently a civil offence, punishable by financial penalty and loss of tenancy. But Housing Minister, John Healey, intends to make sub-letting a criminal offence and allow courts to recover illicit profits whilst enforcing larger fines and prison sentences.

Mr Healey believes that up to 200,000 council tenants are sub-letting nationwide, earning up to £20,000 a year from family, friends and private tenants.

Following the introduction of a £500 reward for information on sub-letters, councils and housing associations have recovered over 300 homes for tenants, which have been redistributed on housing lists to soften current property woes.

In Oxford, a pilot scheme has also been launched with government backing to track down illegal tenants and help those in genuine need of housing.

“I’m pleased that the Government is funding this scheme as sub-letting is unfair to all involved,” Cllr Joe McManners, Board Member for Housing, said this week. “We want to make sure anyone who abuses the system is found out.”

Oxford City Council is not alone as several councils have set up anti-fraud initiatives and Mr Healey believes almost 20,000 council homes could become available if 10% of unlawful tenants were removed.

“By unlawfully sub-letting these properties for a profit they deprive families of the homes they need,” Mr Healey told The Times. “I am looking to make this a criminal offence, with tough penalties for the worst offenders to deter those who are thinking of making a fast buck from council housing.”

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Written by Andrew Hodges

April 3, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Posted in Comment, LinkedIn, New Law

Tagged with , ,

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