ESTATE AGENT ILLEGALLY SUB-LET HIS COUNCIL HOME
More than 900 illegally sub-let homes taken back by Southwark in past three years
An estate agent who committed housing fraud has become the latest to be penalised in Southwark council’s fight against illegal subletting.
Following a council led investigation the man, an employee of one of London’s leading estate and letting agencies, was found to be illegally subletting his council owned property in Walworth, Southwark.
Legal proceedings was taken against him under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 and he was ordered to pay back £7188.33 as a part of a mutual agreement settled in Lambeth County Court.
Alarm bells were first raised about the property by a Southwark housing officer last year. These suspicions were then confirmed following an unannounced visit where various IDs and proof of address documents were found in two separate names.
A signed tenancy agreement between the man and the unauthorised occupants and bank statements showing £1,000 being deposited into the man’s bank account were also found.
During the investigation, the man terminated his tenancy and the unauthorised occupants left the property and the keys were returned to the council a week before the court hearing.
Cllr Richard Livingstone, Southwark council cabinet member for housing, said “It is unacceptable that some people still feel that it’s reasonable to abuse their tenancies and illegally sublet their homes.
“Our long waiting lists for council housing mean that each and every home is precious and cannot be used as a money making machine.
“It is also hard to believe that a professional lettings agent would not have known in April 2013 that the subletting of social housing was being made a criminal offence.
“Anyone who makes the mistake of illegally renting their council home runs the real risk of not only losing their tenancy for good but of serious legal action, as this man has found out.
“Our award-winning fraud team is dedicated to getting illegally sublet homes back and giving them to people in real need.
“It’s also important for tenants to be wary of who they’re renting a property from. “If your landlord is illegally subletting the property to you then not only will you face eviction but you may also be liable to a fine.”
This case marks the latest in the council’s crackdown on illegal subletting. So far Southwark council, the largest local authority social landlord, has taken back 901 illegally subletted homes over the last three years – the highest in the country.
If you live in Southwark and suspect someone is unlawfully subletting or wrongly claiming a tenancy, please contact the council’s tenancy fraud team on 020 7525 4686 or email the housing fraud team.(Source: Southwark council press release)