A woman who illegally sublet her council flat, making thousands of pounds profit has been ordered to return the property to Lambeth Council and pay over £23,000, thanks to the work of the council’s Fraud Team.
It’s the council’s first use of an ‘unlawful profit order’ , introduced under a new law that came into force last year. The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act gives local councils far reaching powers to prosecute tenancy fraudsters and recover the profits of illegal subletting.
The Poynders Garden tenant was discovered to be subletting her flat to three subtenants in late 2013. She was found to be receiving rental income for the property that was significantly higher than the rent charged by Lambeth council.
Although the tenant denied subletting and defended the case in Wandsworth County Court, the judge instructed her to give back immediate possession of the property and to pay £12,000 in costs. She was ordered to pay an additional £11,624.59 as a result of profits she made from subletting the property. In summing up, His Honour Judge Hugman stated that ‘Any decent honest Lambeth resident would be horrified that someone could behave that way and cheat society.’
Cllr Matthew Bennett, Cabinet member for Housing said; “ The judge is absolutely right and this case should send a message to frauds and cheats that our fraud team will track them down. “
In a separate incident, Lambeth council has warned of the potentially fatal dangers of stealing electricity after taking possession of a number of ‘short life’ properties in the Clapham area where power had been supplied illegally. An electrician contracted by the council to make the properties safe said unsecured cables and unsafe connections made it the most dangerous site he’d seen in 35 years and it was a miracle that no one had been electrocuted.
If you wish to report tenancy fraud or any other fraud against Lambeth please report it online here or call 0207 926 1111.