Tenants illegally subletting council flats or houses in Brighton and Hove have until the end of May to hand in their keys or risk being jailed.
The same goes for anyone with a council tenancy who lives elsewhere, as Brighton and Hove City Council offers a temporary amnesty.
The two-month amnesty runs until Thursday 31 May and is the second to be offered locally.
Just over a year ago, six homes were handed back during the first tenancy fraud amnesty in Brighton and Hove.
And the latest one started just after auditors gave councillors an update on housing tenancy fraud and “right to buy” fraud.
They said that 18 council homes were made available for tenants who genuinely needed them in the 2017-18 financial year, six of them since early January. Last year the figure was similar, with 20 properties recovered.
In the past the council has prosecuted tenancy frauds in the criminal courts.
The council’s Audit and Standards Committee was also told in a report: “A total of 36 ‘right to buy’ applications have not been pursued after preventive review by the team.”
The council said: “People committing tenancy fraud in council housing and temporary accommodation have another chance to avoid legal action by handing their property back during a second amnesty being run by Brighton and Hove City Council.
“The tenancy fraud amnesty begins on (Tuesday) 3 April and tenants illegally subletting their homes or keeping a social housing tenancy while living elsewhere have until (Thursday) 31 May to return their properties to the council without fear of further action.
“Tenants will need to leave the property unoccupied and empty of all belongings and sign a surrender notice.
“Keys can be handed in at
- Bartholomew House, Bartholomew Square, Brighton, BN1 1JE
- Portslade Town Hall, Victoria Road, Portslade, BN41 1YF
- Whitehawk Community Hub, 179a Whitehawk Road, Brighton, BN2 5FL
- Lavender Street Housing Office, Lavender Street, Brighton BN2 1JU
“National figures suggest that tenancy fraud costs the public purse £18,000 a year for each property.
“With the high costs of housing people in temporary accommodation in the city, the savings for Brighton and Hove are likely to be significantly more.
“Six families were rehomed following the first tenancy fraud amnesty run between December 2016 and January 2017.
“The six homes returned through the amnesty were two three-bedroom, two two-bedroom and two one-bedroom properties.”
Councillor Anne Meadows, who chairs the Housing and New Homes Committee, said: “We have a huge demand for housing in the city.
“Tenancy fraud deprives residents in genuine need at a huge cost to the city and we are focused on tackling the problem.
“The amnesties offer us the chance to get properties back quickly and cheaply.
“Tenants looking for more information on the amnesty can call Housing Customer Services on 01273 293030 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If anyone suspects someone isn’t living in their council house or is subletting it, they can report it in confidence by calling the council on 01273 291847 or emailing email@example.com.”
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