Government Consultation to Reduce Illegal Letting of Affordable Social Housing

publication date: Jan 12, 2012
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

Government Consultation to Reduce Illegal Letting of Affordable Social Housing

The Government recently announced a Social Housing Fraud Consultation which aims to reduce the illegal letting of affordable and council housing. The proposals would help local authorities reduce the prevalence of tenancy fraud within the social housing sector.

It includes measures that would greatly increase both the deterrent to tenants to commit fraud and local authority/housing association's ability to detect and prosecute those who do. It would also extend local authorities' powers of prosecution and remove the loopholes that allow those abusing their tenancies to retain them. The Government states these proposals would be in addition to, rather than in place of existing powers.

Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action, a company specialising in tenant eviction, comments on the latest Government proposal to make sub-letting council houses a criminal offence, with offenders facing up to two years in prison. Paul comments:-

     "This is an extremely positive step in combating long term abuse of the social housing system. There have been a growing number of tenants acting as landlords by sub-letting their council properties for their own financial gain and this is to the detriment of thousands of other vulnerable people. In the past, we have experienced "landlords" seeking our assistance to evict their tenant, only to find out that the property is not in fact theirs and the end tenant is not actually aware the property is being illegally sub-let.

     "There is a severe shortage of social housing in this country but if enforcement is carried out as a result of this law change, then hopefully this will go some way to freeing up council properties for those who are truly in need. Of course, councils being made aware of such cases and having the ability to throw resources at the investigation process in order to enforce this law will be key to combating the issue.

     "Hopefully, imprisonment of up to two years as well as a hefty fine will act as a deterrent to those greedy "wannabe landlords" who continue to flout the system."

If you are looking to rent a property, it's essential that you ask the right questions to ensure you will not be renting from a rogue or illegal landlord, which could not only leave you homeless but financially out of pocket!


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