By Tom Symons
Social housing tenants who sub-let their properties should be prosecuted for fraud according to a report from the New Local Government Network. Under current rules, sub-letting social housing is a civil offence but the report calls for it to be treated the same as benefit fraud in the eyes of the law. The think-tank’s report claims that at least 50,000 people are fraudulently living in social housing costing councils thousands of pounds and depriving those in real need of housing.
Unlawful subletting refers to situations in which a tenant in social housing violates the conditions of their tenancy by renting their property out to individuals not permitted to live there by the conditions of tenancy. It is estimated that 80 per cent of people living in fraudulently rented social housing would not themselves qualify for council help.
The Government recently announced a ‘National Crackdown’ on fraudulent sub-letting, offering £500 rewards to members of the public who provide information that helps to catch cheating landlords. However the report argues that the problem won’t be sufficiently tackled unless it is treated as seriously as other kinds of fraud, such as benefit fraud. The call has been backed by the Chartered Institute of Housing.
DON’T LET ON: NEW MEASURES TO HELP TACKLE UNLAWFUL SUB-LETTING is available from the NLGN