Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ever thought you can Let without actually Buying?

Illegal landlords subletting social housing

Experts estimate 5% of social housing properties in inner city areas could be being unlawfully sublet.

Posted by peter_2008 @ 03:23 PM (1477 views)
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11 thoughts on “Ever thought you can Let without actually Buying?

  • This has been going on for years. It’s particularly rife in places with high rents, i.e. inner London. The whole structure of council housing and housing benefit needs to be re-thought, as it has proven to be something of a disaster in many areas.

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    I’d be pleasantly surprised if it’s only five per cent.

    The MW plan is to scrap the idea of social rents/housing benefit and council tax/council tax benefit and for all social tenants simply to pay a twenty per cent flat income tax (on top of normal income tax).

    Another plan is just to sell off all the social housing.

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  • Only 5%?

    When I worked in Newham (Inner London) it was a thriving business with the staff always willing to help provided they had a quiet sweetener.

    Before you judge them, work on the housing rent reciepts desk for a month!

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  • little professor says:

    I suspect the figure is a lot higher. I see a lot of people fiddling the system this way – usually it is couples who don’t declare that they are living together. The both keep their own council house (paid for by housing benefit) and live in one of them, letting the other out for a tidy profit. Between that and the free accommodation they are richer than I am.

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  • My housing authority had new steel outer doors fitted with a special key (people were kicking the wooden ones in when they returned drunk without their keys)… you had to take a passport photo and ID with you to collect the new key… the idea behind it was to tie a face to a flat… some neighbours moved out shortly after; pity they were always pleasant and quiet unlike their replacements

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  • shining wit says:

    I lived next door to a housing association flat in london and a council house in the midlands. Both had been sub-let to the very willing.

    In London the ‘real’ tenant was making a packet as he was on a disability benefit and living with his girlfriend and sublet the property to tenant after tenant, and in the midlands the property was repeatedly sub-let to mostly non english speaking people, mostly asian. I suspect they mostly didn’t have a right to be in the country but cannot prove any of this. In both cases this went on for years, 3 years in London, the whole time I was living next to the flat, and for 4 years of the 5 I lived in the midlands property. In both cases the rent was being paid for by the state.

    In case you’re wondering, I never knew about the London property until I moved out and a friend moved into my room in the flat and subsequently found out all about this and the house in the midlands I never even knew it was a Housing Association property until a couple of months before I moved out. The ‘real’ tenant for this property was a nasty bunch of workshy trash who used to race motorbikes up and down the streets constantly, and everyone rejoiced at when they moved out. No-one realised that they were subletting until recently when their was a fire at the place but the fraud wasn’t (as far as I know) found out.

    Benefit fraud and the subletting of social housing is a massive problem. I suspect that somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of all benefit, if not fraudulant, is very suspect. There are few checks after the intitial awarding of benefits and only a fraction of the rip off crimes are going to be caught.

    I imagine that many people are positively rubbing their hands with glee that the recession is offereing them so many avenues for this sort of crime.

    Oh well, I suppose that’s why we’ll have ID cards within 5 years.

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  • last_days_of_disco says:

    Britain is absolutely riddled with this kind of cheating. The great thing about this downturn is that all the nonsense is going to be exposed because in tough times we can’t afford to tolerate it. Anyway, everyone is going to be in a really intolerant mood. This is all about a mood swing. We believe the good times are gone and taking the mickey when everyone else is suffering is going to result in being punished by everyone. Its about time! It was great to see my fellow Lutonites finally find their [email protected] the other day and chase off the treacherous little squirts who dared to insult our troops. Beware liberal lefties your days of eulogising our enemies are over, just try it and see what happens :-D.

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  • Last summer Private Eye reported the following: There are almost 5 million households in social housing. Estimates of the extent of unlawful subletting vary between 3% and 10% of this number. In the 1990s two studies were conducted in Lambeth to find out if council properties on two large estates were occupied by the lawful tenants. Both studies were terminated when it became obvious that they had opened a can of worms; subletting was rife and ‘lawful’ tenants had disappeared into the ether. Typically the ‘lawful’ tenant paid £60 – £70 a week and sublet at £200 – £400 a week.

    Typically a council doesn’t know if its tenants have additional tenancies with other councils. Some years ago an investigator found a fraudster with 28 tenancies spread across 28 different London Boroughs. The priority of local authories and housing associations is usually to achieve their rent collection targets and thereby avoid penalties. According to the Audit Commission’s report for the latest year (as at July 2008) the UK’s 474 local authorities managed to recover just 69 sublet properties.

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  • Is it a British thing to not report this type of crime?
    If a friend at work told you that they were paying their friend rent and living with him in his council flat then you might not want to see your friend go to prison and you might find that proving the activity is difficult because it will often be cash-in-hand or a myriad of excuses for money exchange and being temporarily at your friend’s house could be thought up.

    Rather than making it a criminal offence, maybe it should be a civil wrong liable to a fine based on someone being found to be living at a council flat without permission – the onus to prove longevity of the stay could be removed. That might be a more practical way of getting people reported and subsequently showing liability. Some people might deny having savings with which to pay a fine but a lot of people doing this crime are people with quite good jobs who simply want to get ahead in life.
    A name them and shame them policy might be good too so that someone’s name would be tarnished.

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  • mdmick…..

    “Is it a British thing to not report this type of crime?” – The trouble is, as i stated in my post earlier, that peoplew really don’t have much of an idea about their neighbours. In both the cases I mentioned I never knew anything until, in the first case, I had moved out. And in the second case was in the proces of moving.

    Also in both cases the evidence is purely hearsay, no-one really has the information. We have to be careful we all don’t become like the East German Stasi.

    As icarus points out, the local authorities appear to not be interested.

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  • Blowawhistle says:

    It is true to say that illegal subletting of social housing properties has become a national epidemic – unfortunately, Social Landlords are entirely responsible for the growing problem. Housing Associations do what they need to do to keep below the radar of the (completely ineffective) Housing Corporation and stay out of supervision. This ensures they continue to receive their government funding – allowing them to focus on new developments of shared ownership ( which has now completely blown up in their faces…but thats another story!) and protects the position of Senior Management who frequently earn £60K with both private health care and a final salary scheme pension. I work for a Housing Association and admit that during the recent Inspection carried out by the Audit Commission, we told the inspectors what they wanted to hear and not how it actually was! This is the same Regulatory body who were completely hoodwinked by Social Services at Haringey Council. Icarus hit the nail on the head in his post – the issue of sub-letting is a great big can of worms and it is therefore easier to ignore it than deal with the problem. Maybe if the matter was more high profile in the media public outrage would force the governement to address the problem!

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