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Fraud and prosecutions, Housing

Estate agent and tenant prosecuted over housing fraud

A 59 year old Brixton woman has been prosecuted by Lambeth Council for subletting the flat that she rents from the council.  Estate agents, Nelsons of Southwark Bridge Road were also prosecuted for aiding and abetting the commission of the offence.

Maria Polonio, of Harper House, Angell Town returned to Portugal in December 2014 and asked Nelson’s to rent out the property on her behalf. Letting agents are required to check whether the person renting out a property is entitled to do so, but Nelsons failed to do so and the property was rented out from December 2014 until September 2015.

Lambeth investigators received an anonymous referral in late July 2015 indicating that Polonio hadn’t been seen at the property for several months. Following an investigation and visit to the property in August 2015, sub-tenants were found there and confirmed they were paying rent at a significantly higher level than that charged by Lambeth council.

On 29 March 2016 Polonio entered guilty pleas to two charges under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 and was ordered to pay Lambeth costs of £816.00 and an unlawful profit order of £6,547.44, based on the profit she made in renting out the property. Nelsons SE1 Limited (trading as Nelsons) pleaded guilty to one offence and were fined £1,000 and ordered to pay costs of £847.00.

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