Laura Sharman 09 March 2010

Unlawful sub-letting of social housing ‘should be a criminal offence’

Social housing tenants who sub-let their properties should be prosecuted for fraud, according to a report by the New Local Government Network (NLGN).

The report shows that at least 50,000 people fraudulently live in social housing: 80% of these would not actually qualify for council help. NLGN want illegal sub-letting to be treated the same as benefit fraud in the eyes of the law.

According to estimates from the Audit Commission, unlawful sub-letting costs local councils an average £75,000 over three years. Savings of £750 million could be made by recovering all unlawfully sub-let properties.

Report author, Tom Symons, said: ‘The costs of unlawful sub-letting demand action that goes beyond a quick one-off crackdown and instead seeks to effect legal change as well as a major shift in societal attitudes towards tenancy fraud.

‘It is imperative that government now makes the changes that will enable local authorities to galvanise their anti-tenancy efforts.’

Click here for a copy of the NLGN report.

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