Housing Lawyer
Tenancy fraud proceeds to be reimbursed to landlords, not taken by State: Shapps PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 11 January 2012 10:34

The proceeds of tenancy fraud could be reimbursed to social landlords rather than confiscated by the State, the Housing Minister said today.

Grant Shapps also vowed to give local authorities greater powers to investigate possible fraud, with councils able to oblige banks and utility companies to provide access to data. Currently, such organisations can refuse to comply with a request, the minister said.

The announcements were included in widely-trailed proposals for a new criminal offence for the unlawful subletting of social housing.

The minister said the offence would attract a maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to £50,000 if the case goes to the Crown Court.

The Department for Communities and Local Government claimed that “tenancy cheats” could earn thousands of pounds a year renting their social homes out to private tenants – “but if caught, may currently face no greater penalty than losing their tenancy”.

It cited estimates that between 50,000 and 160,000 social homes are currently being unlawfully occupied across the country.

Grant Shapps said: "Tenancy cheats are taking advantage of a vital support system for some of the most vulnerable people in our society and getting away with a slap on the wrist while our waiting lists continue to grow. It's time for these swindlers to pay the price.

"It would cost us billions of pounds to replace the huge number of unlawfully occupied social homes across the country. Meanwhile tenancy cheats can earn thousands of pounds letting out their property, which was given to them in good faith and which could instead be offering a stable home to a family in need.

"The proposals I've announced today would not only deliver justice to these fraudsters, but will also act as a deterrent to those who think they can earn a fast buck from this precious resource. I want everyone to know that our country's social homes are going to those in genuine need, not providing a 'nice little earner' to someone who could afford to live elsewhere."

Local authorities have already successfully prosecuted tenants for unlawful sublettng, however. Last year Camden Council became one of the first local authorities to prosecute a council tenant for housing fraud under the Fraud Act.

Oladapo Talabi pleaded guilty at Highbury Magistrates Court on 1 September 2011 to two counts of fraud. He had been prosecuted under sections 1 and 3 of the Fraud Act for failing to disclose information to make a gain and exposing the council to loss.

The defendant was given a community order of 12 months comprising 100 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay the council £750 in costs.

Philip Hoult

 

Latest News

April 23, 2014

Supreme Court to hold expedited hearing on benefit cap next week

The Supreme Court will next week hold an expedited hearing of a challenge to the Government’s introduction of the controversial ‘benefit cap’. Read more
April 15, 2014

Council, HCA and pension fund seal "first of its kind" housing investment fund

A contract for a housing investment fund – said to be the first of its kind – has been signed by Manchester City Council, the Greater Manchester Pension Fund and the Homes & Communities Agency. Read more
April 14, 2014

Supreme Court to hear case on EU migrants and temporary inability to work

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an EU national’s appeal over a ruling that he was not eligible for housing assistance from a local authority as his inability to work was not temporary. Read more
April 01, 2014

London borough to use s. 106 agreements to tackle 'buy-to-leave' homes

A London borough is consulting on plans to use s. 106 agreements to tackle the issue of “buy-to-leave” homes. Read more
April 01, 2014

Law firm launches social housing litigation boutique with senior hires

An international business law firm has hired two senior lawyers to head up a specialist social housing litigation boutique. Read more

 

Features

Construction iStock 000002149516XSmall 146x219
April 10, 2014

A new dawn for public sector bonds

In the light of the recent North Tyneside PFI Housing Project, Paul McDermott looks at the scope for the public sector to use bond finance for long term capital projects. Read more
Anti-Social 2 iStock 000001684994XSmall 146x219
April 10, 2014

Anti-social Behaviour Bill – nearly there!

Alex Loxton highlights some key issues on the pending anti-social behaviour reforms. Read more
April 10, 2014

Stating your grounds

A recent case has stressed the importance of stating grounds relied on in notices, writes Sharon Garrity. Read more
April 02, 2014

The Better Care Fund – what is in it for housing providers?

What opportunities does the Better Care Fund offer housing providers? David Owens explains. Read more
March 26, 2014

Refusing accommodation because of a misunderstanding

The Court of Appeal has upheld an appeal from an applicant who rejected an offer of accommodation while under a misapprehension that was only revealed after the refusal. Emily Orme analyses the case. Read more
March 26, 2014

It's a sin to tell a lie

Jon Baines looks at the data protection issues raised by councils' use of voice risk analysis when benefit claimants are on the telephone. Read more
March 26, 2014

Migrant children: s. 17 support for members of extended family

The High Court has dealt firmly with three arguments which are quite commonly relied upon in requests by NRPF (no recourse to public funds) individuals for support and accommodation under the Children Act 1989. Jonathan Auburn and Ben Tankel review… Read more

 

Older news and features

April 10, 2014

Stating your grounds

March 26, 2014

It's a sin to tell a lie

March 12, 2014

Room for manoeuvre

March 05, 2014

Core stability

March 05, 2014

The cap fits?

Click here for full section archive

Now Previewing on LGL.tv: Social Housing Allocations: Law and Practice (Click on bottom right of screen for full size.)

Featured Jobs

Coventry Law Centre


CLICK HERE to search all current vacancies

Featured Courses & Events

50% off LGLtv subscriptions
  • 1
  • 2

Sign up for Courses and Events Updates

* indicates required

Services v2

Yellow pages iStock 000009762383XSmall cropTo access details of individual advertisers, please click on the relevant banner below.

To search all entries in the Local Government Lawyer Services Directory, please click here

 

Easton Bevins Chartered Surveyors

 


 Shout_to_the_top_looking_left_iStock_000006002590XSmall_98x74 Latest Blog Posts

 

 


 

Ballot_iStock_000006080605XSmall_thumb

Snap Judgement

Is the role of monitoring officer worth the risk?