24
October
2013
|
00:00
Europe/London

Council house cheats to face much tougher laws


Council tenants who rent out their home and live elsewhere will face much harder punishment now a new housing fraud act has been put in place.



The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act came into force on 15 October, and makes it a criminal offence for council tenants to unlawfully sublet their home and also gives councils wider powers of prosecution.



Anyone who is found guilty of committing tenancy fraud will face a fine and custodial sentence of up to two years.



Leeds City Council has a dedicated team working to reduce tenancy fraud throughout the city and since 2009, has taken back 97 properties and re let them to people in need of a council home. The council has identified unlawful subletting in previous cases through conducting annual tenancy audits, participating in the Audit Commission’s National Fraud Initiative and working closely with local housing associations.



Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods, planning and support services said:



“When a council tenant lets their home to somebody else, they are making a profit unfairly, and depriving people on the housing waiting list of their chance of a council home.



“As a council we will not stand for this behaviour and will act accordingly to address the issue. The new act gives the authority more powers to deal with offenders, and we will continue to pursue this issue to ensure homes are let correctly to the right tenants.”



If you suspect illegal subletting is taking place in your area, you can report it by calling one of our fraud reporting hotlines:



Housing Leeds numbers;



If you live in south Leeds or the Aire Valley- 0113 378 1410

If you live in east or north east Leeds - 0113 247 6681

If you live in west or north west Leeds - 0113 378 2530



All information that is given to the council will be treated in confidence, and your details will not be passed on to anybody else.





Ends



For media enquiries, please contact;

Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450

Email: Catherine.milburn@leeds.gov.uk