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Council tenants subletters face two years in jail

Housing Minister Grant Shapps wants to crack down on tenancy cheats and clear the council housing waiting lists

Council tenants who sub-let their homes will face up to two years in jail and a fine, under new government plans unveiled on Wednesday.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said the plans could free up thousands of homes for housing waiting lists across the country.

“It would cost us billions of pounds to replace the huge number of unlawfully occupied social homes across the country,” Shapps said.

“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.”

If caught, tenancy fraudsters face no greater penalty than losing their tenancy under current regulations.

However, new proposals include a new criminal offence with a maximum sentence of two years imprisonment and a fine of up to £50,000 if the case goes to the Crown court.

David Ward, Tenancy Enforcement Team Leader at the City Council, said cases of tenancy cheats are rare, while the council homes waiting list has over 3,000 people.

“The government’s plans refer to someone who obtains a council or other tenancy in the social housing sector, then moves out, sub-lets the whole property, perhaps for financial gain, to another person and stops living in their property and using it as their only or main home.

“If a tenant did this in Lincoln, they would be in breach of the terms of their tenancy agreement and the council would serve the tenant with a Notice of Seeking Possession and apply to the County Court for an order for possession to evict them.

“In recent years, the council has not had cause to take action through the court to evict any of its tenants for breaching the terms of the tenancy agreement relating to sub-letting,” Ward added.

Related Reports: BBC News, Daily Mail