Council successfull in prosecuting re subletting fraud.
Westminster City Council have successfully prosecuted Raymond Whittard, a tenant, and Sharon Smith, a subtenant, for conspiracy to defraud through unlawful subletting.
The case is believed to be the first time a council has successfully prosecuted a council tenant and their subtenant, Whittard and Smith admitted conspiracy to defraud in June 2015 at Southwark Crown Court, Smith received a nine-month suspended sentence plus 140 hours unpaid work, Whittard was given a 10-month suspended sentence and ordered to undertake 150 hours unpaid work.
A confiscation hearing took place in court on 28 April 2016 under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA ) in order to recoup the criminal benefit. The total ordered to be repaid was £96,083.20 within three months or else serve a two year prison term. Whittard at £39,606.84 (benefit), £2,000 (costs) and for Smith at £49,476.36 (benefit), £5,000 (costs).
Councillor Lindsey Hall, Westminster City Council, reportedly said: “It is illegal for council tenants to sublet their homes. This conviction sends a clear message of zero tolerance to housing and tenancy fraud and to people who think subletting is a quick earner.
“The council works closely with CityWest Homes, who carry out tenancy checks and use data matching, for any potential illegal sublets, as this practice deprives others of a home while the person subletting illegally earns a profit.”