Subletting crackdown to criminalise tenancy fraud
The government is proposing to create a new criminal offence of tenancy fraud to crack down on the subletting of social housing.
Under plans unveiled today subletting tenants could face two years in prison or a fine of up to £50,000.
Ministers hope the move will act as a deterrent to sub letting. Any proceeds of fraud recovered will be handed to the landlord, rather than being confiscated by the state, and councils will be given better access to financial and utility company data to help them identify tenancy fraud.
Currently subletting is not a criminal offence, so although tenants can be evicted for breaching their tenancy agreement they are unlikely to receive further sanction unless they are prosecuted for another offence, such as fraud.
The government believes between 50,000 and 160,000 social homes could be unlawfully sublet across England.
Housing minister Grant Shapps said: ‘Tenancy cheats are taking advantage of a vital support system for some of the most vulnerable people in our society and getting away with a slap on the wrist while our waiting lists continue to grow.
‘It’s time for these swindlers to pay the price. It would cost us billions of pounds to replace the huge number of unlawfully occupied social homes across the country.’