The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 (The Act) came into force on 15 October 2013. The Act aims to address the overwhelming statistics relating to the unlawful subletting and housing fraud.
Unlawful Profit Orders
The Act introduces unlawful profit orders and the permanent loss of security of tenure for assured tenants who unlawfully sublet their property.
The UPO is available in both civil and criminal proceedings. The Court can order that the tenant pay to the landlord the profit made from the unlawful subletting if it finds the tenant has breached the tenancy in the following ways:
. Parts with possession of the whole property
. Sublets the property or part of it and receives money in return
The Act creates two new criminal offences which are distinguished by the tenant's intent:
. Offence 1 - parting with possession, subletting or failing to occupy the property as their only or principal home
. Offence 2 - parting with possession, subletting or failing to occupy the property as their only or principal home & dishonesty
Factors such as violence or threats of violence will be considered by the Court in respect of Offence 1 but not of Offence 2. The criminal offences also carry sentences:
. Offence 1 - penalty is a fine not exceeding £5,000
. Offence 2 - penalty is imprisonment
. On summary trial the offence is punishable by conviction of up to six months in prison, a fine not exceeding £5,000 or both
. On indictment the penalty is up to two years' imprisonment, a fine or both
Tenancy fraud has always been a very serious problem for social landlords to manage. The long awaited Prevention of Social housing Fraud Act 2013 will give social landlords the power to tackle the reported 98,000 homes that were found to be occupied unlawfully in 2012.
Its now time to use the Act we have so long awaited and clamp down on unlawful subletting.
If you have any queries on this topic please contact Bukola Aremu