In the first case of its kind in west Norfolk, the borough Council in conjunction with eastlaw has used new powers under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 to obtain information and prosecute a case on behalf of Circle Housing Wherry.
The tenant was given a 2-year conditional discharge and an unlawful profits order of £3,687.64. The Council’s costs of £1,363.70 were also awarded along with a victim surcharge of £15.
Speaking after the hearing, Cllr Adrian Lawrence, Cabinet Member for Housing and Community, said: “Tenancy fraud is a matter we take very seriously. Social housing is in high demand and there are considerable waiting lists. When people move out of a social housing property, they should inform their landlord so that the property can be made available to someone in need on the housing register. In this instance, the property was sub-let to a private tenant – potentially preventing someone on the housing register from being housed and providing the tenant with a profit made at someone else’s expense.
“Local councils have been granted new powers which enable us to bring forward criminal prosecutions on behalf of registered social landlords, helping them to crack down on this type of crime.
“I am delighted with this outcome which will see the unlawful profits being returned to Circle Housing Wherry and sends a very strong message to tenants about respecting the terms of their tenancy agreement.”
Registered social landlords (RSLs) don’t have the power to bring forward criminal prosecutions under this act and can only pursue costly civil cases. The Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk is urging RSLs to get in touch if they have any cases they want to be investigated for potential prosecution.