Tenants illegally subletting their homes are set to be offered a month-long amnesty by Croydon council.
Under proposals approved by Croydon’s cabinet they will be allowed to hand back their keys anonymously during February, with the promise that no action will be taken against them by the council.
The latest move is part of a drive to crack down on tenancy fraud, the majority of which is illegal subletting.
“The amnesty campaign is to warn people that illegal subletting is now a criminal offence punishable by a prison sentence and a fine” said a Croydon council spokesman.
Tenancy fraud costs the taxpayer £90,000 per property when taking into account the potential housing benefit fraud and the cost of keeping other households in temporary accommodation.
It is estimated nationally that around 98,000 properties may be subject to tenancy fraud, at a cost to the taxpayer of £900m a year.
The council wants residents to come forward and report any suspected illegal subletting.
Tell-tale signs include post being delivered to properties that doesn’t display the named tenant; different people seen coming and going; or locks fitted on internal doors.
Cllr Dudley Mead, cabinet member for housing, said: “With a shortage of housing for those in greatest need of it, fraudsters who illegally sublet their homes are depriving struggling families of the right to a suitable home.
“This is a criminal offence, and while this amnesty is a chance for those who are breaking the law to think again and do the right thing. “We will be coming down strongly on those that ignore it and think they can get away with it.
“It’s only a matter of time before we catch up with you. “The warning is loud and clear – hand back the keys or you could face a prison sentence.”
To report any suspected illegal subletting call the anti-fraud hotline on 0800 328 9270. (Source: Croydon council press release)
ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR COSTS FAMILY THEIR HOUSING ASSOCIATION HOME
Persistent antisocial behaviour has led to a family being evicted from their home.
Croydon council and Croydon police’s antisocial behaviour teams worked with Amicus Horizon Housing Association to secure the three-month closure order at 13 Freelands Avenue in Monks Hill.
The council and police gave evidence that there had been a history of criminal incidents and anti-social behaviour at the address since a woman and her extended family moved there in April 2012.
It started off as low-level nuisance, such as parties and late-night noise, but, by October 2013, there was a surge in antisocial activity and a step up in the number of calls made to police regarding the address.
During this month large groups of young men attended the estate, with police called to disperse them on several occasions.
The family fled the property not long after this in fear for their safety, but returned intermittently to the estate causing further trouble each time.
PC Fred Morgan, of the Croydon police antisocial behaviour team, said: “This household was at the heart of some serious antisocial behaviour in the Monks Hill area over the past few months.
“Despite numerous attempts to engage with the family, they refused to improve their behaviour and even became aggressive towards the people that were trying to help them.”
Cabinet member for community safety, Cllr Simon Hoar, said: “The police and council’s antisocial behaviour teams worked closely with Amicus Horizon to quickly obtain a closure order on the address.
“This has already resulted in a dramatic fall in the number of calls regarding antisocial behaviour in the area.
“This sends a clear message that acts of persistent and serious anti-social behaviour will be dealt with swiftly and very decisively.”
The application was heard at Camberwell Green magistrates’ court following two adjournments when it went ahead uncontested by the occupier.
The order expires on Sunday 23 March 2014. The landlord, Amicus Horizon, has commenced possession proceedings on the property.
Full costs were also awarded, totalling £5,160. (Source: Croydon council press release)
LANDLORDS FINED FOR FAILING TO CARRY OUT NECESSARY REPAIRS – AGAIN
Landlords have been re-prosecuted for continued failure to carry out necessary repair work to a house which was rented to a mother and her children and were fined £5000 plus £240 victim surcharge and ordered to pay £949.50 in costs at Bromley magistrates court.
They did not carry out the required work to their property in Mosul Way, Bromley which resulted in Bromley council having to issue an improvement notice detailing several defects and deficiencies which needed addressing.
Crystal Palace Chamber of Commerce have said a big ‘thank you’ to Calum Mason, director at Winkworth estate agents in Upper Norwood, who bought the Christmas lights that have so elegantly decorated our Triangle for the past two festive seasons.
“I would also like to thank Croydon council lighting contractor
Skanska who installed them for free” said Chamber spokesman Robbie
“If it was not for the generosity of Winkworths and Skanska we would
have had no Christmas decorations in Crystal Palace as local councils
have cut back on their funding.
“Crystal Palace residents are also very grateful to Plumbase for their
fantastic window which has become such a Crystal Palace institution
and gives Regent Street a run for its money – and I personally thought
the green bottles Christmas tree in the Braziliana cafe on Westow
Hill were very stylish this year too.”
LANDLORDS FLOCK TO COUNCIL CONFERENCE
More than 150 landlords attended a conference about the advantages of renting properties through Croydon council.
There was a series of presentations on empty-property grants and loans, universal credit and the welfare reforms, as well as a guest speaker from the National Landlords Association and a talk by a private landlord.
The conference’s 155 visitors were also able to find out about signing up to Croybond and Croylease, the council’s dedicated landlord schemes.
Among the highlights was a presentation that introduced a proposal for a new rent guarantee scheme, which generated a lot of interest.
Cllr Dudley Mead, cabinet member for housing, said: “With demand for homes outstripping the supply of housing currently available to the council, the message to all private landlords out there is loud and clear – we want your properties.
“Our schemes offer some fantastic benefits and we were delighted with the huge amount of interest shown at the landlords conference. “Feedback was really positive.
“And if you were unable to make it, get in touch and find out what’s available.”
The event was held at the Community Space in the council’s Bernard Weatherill House headquarters.
To find out more about Croybond and Croylease visitwww.croydon.gov.uk/privatelandlords (Source: Croydon council press release)