Council Homes Recovered From Illegal Sublets

Following tip-offs about bogus tenants from neighbours

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The council recovered 44 rental properties last year from people who had no right to be living in them.

Staff in the housing department, working closely with the town hall's internal audit team, took back the council flats and houses after establishing that the occupants were not entitled to be there.

Some of the properties had been sub-let by their tenants to strangers for cash while other cases involved tenants "passing on" the properties to friends or relatives without permission.

One property in Battersea was being rented out by a tenant who had moved abroad and retired, while another flat on a neighbouring estate was being rented out by the tenant, who was living and working on the Continent after advertising it on the Gumtree website.

Another tenant was renting out her two bed council flat in Tooting after moving into a house she'd purchased in Croydon.

Cabinet member for housing Cllr Paul Ellis said: "I am delighted that the hard work of the housing department and the audit team has led to the recovery of these 44 properties. The keys to these homes have now been handed over to families who genuinely need them.

"People who sublet to line their own pockets or pass the keys on to friends or relatives are depriving homeless families of a roof over their heads.

"Anyone who thinks they are going to get away with abusing the system needs to think again. The council carries out stringent checks on tenants long after they have been given the keys to make sure they remain entitled to housing support.

"We cross-check many different types of information with our own records and also with those held by other local authorities, housing associations, schools and a whole range of other public bodies. If the information doesn't tally then that will spark an immediate investigation.

"We also receive a steady stream of tip-offs about bogus tenants and illegal sub-lets from neighbours who are outraged that someone is trying to cash in on these scarce and valuable public resources."

As a result of the internal audits team's successes in rooting out illegal subletting, it has been awarded a Government grant of £150,000 to help unearth and tackle more cases over the next two years.

Across England as a whole approximately 50,000 council-owned homes are thought to have been illegally sublet.

Anyone with information about bogus tenancies in Wandsworth can call the subletting hotline on (020) 8871 6556 or email hms@wandsworth.gov.uk



April 11, 2013