Barnet Council’s month long tenancy fraud amnesty has been hailed a huge success after 14 properties being illegally sublet have been surrendered.
At the time of the deadline on Friday 15 November, 14 sets of keys had been returned, 12 of which are Barnet Homes properties. The remaining two are managed by Registered Social Landlords Home Group and Tally Ho Co-op.
The initiative, run by Barnet Council’s Corporate Anti Fraud Team in conjunction with Barnet Homes’ Tenancy Fraud Team, was launched in October in response to a change in the law.
The introduction of the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 means people illegally subletting their property can now face a prison sentence of up to two years, a criminal record, or a fine of up to £5,000. The amnesty allowed tenants illegally subletting their council home to hand their keys back rather than face prosecution.
Illegal subletting costs every Barnet household money – on average it costs £18,000 from the public purse a year to house as family in temporary accommodation. The cost to build 14 new homes would be around £2.1 million.*
Cllr Tom Davey, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “This is an amazing result and highlights the importance of effective management of housing stock inLondon. This scheme has effectively generated the equivalent of just over £2m in capital and saved the taxpayer around £250,000 a year in temporary accommodation costs. I am very pleased that 14 families in need will now receive keys to their new homes.”
It is hoped that further properties will be recovered as a result of information received during the campaign.
Tracey Lees, Chief Executive of Barnet Homes said: “We are delighted by the spectacular success of the key amnesty campaign and look forward to welcoming 14 deserving families to their new homes. We know the overwhelming majority of tenants occupy their homes legally and that they also share our commitment to tackling tenancy fraud. Well done and thanks to everyone who helped achieve this result.
Residents wishing to report somebody who may be illegally subletting their home can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, by visiting www.barnet.gov.uk or by calling the fraud hotline on 020 8359 2007.