Council tenants face a prison sentence or a fine if they sub-let their homes

January 19, 2012

CIA Let Property Blog

"Tenancy cheats are taking advantage of a vital support system for some of the most vulnerable people in our society and getting away with a slap on the wrist while our waiting lists continue to grow"

A government’s proposal will now allow council tenants who sub-let their homes to be charged and face up to a two-year prison sentence.

Tenancy fraud will now be seen as an offence and if caught a possible fine of up to £50,000 may be issued.

Government officials have estimated that up to 160,000 council tenants sub-let their homes, this is now costing the taxpayer £5 billion a year.

The tenants that are sub-letting were said to be cheating the system and earning thousands by letting out their council homes at normal rental market rates, Grant Shapps, Housing Minister has commented.

At the moment sub-letting a council property is not an offence, the Government feel that local councils need more powers and are now allowing them better access to bank information and utility information.

Mr Shapps said: “Tenancy cheats are taking advantage of a vital support system for some of the most vulnerable people in our society and getting away with a slap on the wrist while our waiting lists continue to grow.

“It’s time for these swindlers to pay the price. It would cost us billions of pounds to replace the huge number of unlawfully occupied social homes across the country.

“Meanwhile tenancy cheats can earn thousands of pounds letting out their property, which was given to them in good faith and which could instead be offering a stable home to a family in need.”

He added: “The proposals I’ve announced today would not only deliver justice to these fraudsters but will also act as a deterrent to those who think they can earn a fast buck from this precious resource.

“I want everyone to know that our country’s social homes are going to those in genuine need, not providing a ‘nice little earner’ to someone who could afford to live elsewhere.”*

Government Ministers are putting out the proposals for consultation, they also want to make council tenants who earn £100,000 or more a year pay normal rental market rates.

The waiting list for social housing is always growing, at the moment around 1.8 million families in England and Wales are on the waiting list.

*Quote from BBC

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