Yorkshire council prosecutes subletting tenant
A Yorkshire council has become one of the first in the country to successfully prosecute a tenant for subletting a council home.
City of York Council used the Fraud Act to prosecute 43-year-old Beatrice Stanford, who is the first person to be prosecuted for subletting in North Yorkshire. She was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £425 costs last week after pleading guilty to the offence.
Subletting social housing is normally treated as a civil rather than criminal offence, although the government is planning to change this by introducing a specific offence of unauthorised subletting.
Ms Stanford had lived in her council home in Fenwick Street, York since 2006 but had been subletting to a third party since November 2009.
It was found that she had charged the tenant £450 a month, rising lately to £520 to include bills, while the rent she paid to the council was only £350.
An investigation was launched in January 2012 after the council and Veritau, the company which provides the council’s fraud investigation service, were alerted to the subletting.
Ms Stanford was served with a notice to quit, and left the property once this expired. It has now been re-let to new tenants.
Tracey Simpson-Laing, cabinet member for health, housing and adult social services at the council, said: ‘This case sends a clear message to the people of York that the council will take a zero tolerance approach to the illegal subletting of council properties. We currently have over 4,000 people on a waiting list for housing and we need to maximise the social housing available to us.’