Council warns on housing fraud: "we will prosecute"
People who rent out their council homes are being warned they face prosecution and potentially hefty bills for breaking the law.
The warning comes after Great Yarmouth Borough Council successfully prosecuted three cases of housing fraud over the summer, where people had falsely claimed to be living in council properties.
The cases heard at Great Yarmouth Magistrates Court in July and August included a woman who had moved to America and another who had moved in with family but fraudulently kept on their council house and allowed it to deteriorate into a state of disrepair.
As well as giving possession of the properties back to the council so that they can be let to people genuinely entitled to a home, the courts ordered them to pay up to £3000 in costs. The former tenants also face bills to fix damage and neglect at the properties.
Council leader Carl Smith said: "There is a huge demand for social housing in our borough and it's simply not fair that people in genuine need are being denied a place to call home because of the selfishness of others.
"We realise that circumstances change sometimes and we will always try to work with tenants if they need to move elsewhere, but ultimately if people try to abuse the system we will take legal action to ensure fairness for everyone."
The council's tenancy services team takes non-occupation of homes very seriously and will investigate where people do not comply with their tenancy conditions. This includes spot checks on properties to check that the registered tenants are living there and that flats and houses are being properly maintained.
Tenants are committing fraud if they have a tenancy with the council but live elsewhere or sublet the property to another person. If a property is unsuitable, the council will always seek to help residents to find a mutual exchange, downsize, or to rent privately.
People with queries over tenancy can get advice or report problems to the tenancy services team by emailing email@example.com or calling 01493 846825.