'Landlord' jailed for illegally letting out council home

Two council tenants found sub-letting their properties have been uncovered by fraud investigators, with one sentenced to jail.

In the first case, the tenant used a lettings agency to rent out the property on her behalf. She has handed back the keys to her house in Edgware, London.

The letting agency had advertised the property online and let it to an unsuspecting private tenant for £1,100 a month.

Meanwhile, the ‘real’ tenant was paying council rent of around £400 – raking in a potential profit of more than £8,000 a year.

Officers at Barnet Homes, which manages 15,000 tenanted and leasehold properties on behalf of Barnet Council, uncovered the fraud following a report of broken heating at the two-bedroom house.

The visiting gas engineer became suspicious that the woman who answered the door was not the registered tenant, and reported the issue to Barnet Homes’ fraud officers.

The resident told investigators that she, her husband and parents-in-law had rented the property from a letting agency at £1,100 a month. They were unaware it was a council home.

The ‘real’ tenant initially denied sub-letting the property but was later discovered to be living in Harrow. After Barnet Homes served Notices to Quit, she returned the keys.?
It is the 21st property recovered by Barnet Homes since a housing fraud campaign was launched.

In the second case, Westminster Council has won its first case over unlawful sub-letting of a council property under the Fraud Act 2006.

Herminio Nascimento, 42, a former council tenant of a two-bedroom property, has been sentenced to 16 weeks in prison for sub-letting a council house property while living with his partner in a property they jointly own in Crawley, Sussex.

The council has been awarded £7,100 in legal costs for the case.

Speaking at the sentencing, District Judge Snow told Nascimento: “You sub-let your council property for profit. When confronted, you lied about it and you lied, you lied and you lied.

“I am duty bound to deter both you and anyone else tempted to sub-let council property.”

It is estimated that 160,000 tenants unlawfully sub-let their homes at a cost of £5bn a year to the taxpayer.