Sunday, 29 March 2015

MPs pass social housing fraud bill

MPs have passed a bill outlawing the illegal sub-letting of social housing properties.

The private member’s bill, proposed by Conservative MP Richard Harrington, received cross-party support during its third reading in the House of Commons.

Although, during the third reading of the bill last week, Labour MP Chris Williamson urged the government to go further in tackling the undersupply of housing.

‘It is worth saying that although the bill is a useful tool, as we are having to wrestle with a massive housing crisis, it will go only part of the way in dealing with the housing need in this country,’ said Mr Williamson.

The MP for Derby North backed government initiatives to bring more empty homes into use to help ease the pressure on council waiting lists.

The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Bill will mean tenants that illegally sub-let their properties could face up to two years’ imprisonment as well as a possibly unlimited fine. At present sub-letting is a civil offence, meaning it cannot attract a custodial sentence on its own.

Planning minister Nick Boles said: ‘The mission of this government is to support the aspirations of hard-working people. The aspiration to have a home of one’s own is one that all people share, so affordable homes are one of the most precious assets we have.’

The bill will now be read by the House of Lords before passing into law.

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