Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act now in place
Wed 16 Oct 2013
A new law designed to clamp down on fraud in the social housing sector has come into force this week.
The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act means tenancy fraudsters could be put in prison for up to two years if they are convicted.
Offenders will also be liable to pay hefty fines, while registered housing providers will be entitled to recover the proceeds of the illegal sub-letting of social accommodation.
Kris Hopkins, the housing minister, said tenancy cheats have denied social homes to "people in real need" for many years, yet faced "little more than a slap on the wrist if they got caught".
However, he stated that under the new legislation, they are now confronted with "the real threat of prison time and a fine".
Richard Harrington MP, who submitted the original Private Member's Bill on the issue to parliament, has welcomed its entry into the statute books.
He said the new law will "make a real difference" to those people who are on social housing waiting lists and make it harder for individuals to "exploit the system" for personal gain.
Mr Harrington stated that he has been "shocked and appalled that people have been able to get away with defrauding the taxpayer for so long". The MP added that he is pleased rules are now in place that will ensure tenancy cheats are properly dealt with.
According to figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government, the illegal sub-letting of social housing costs taxpayers in the region of £1.8 billion a year.
Official estimates suggest that about 100,000 social homes in England are being let out unlawfully.
The government has already allocated £19 million to local authorities around the country to help tackle this ongoing problem.
For further information on any of the points raised in this article please contact Andrew Murray in our Social Housing Team.
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