Following an investigation into subletting by Orbit South’s tenancy fraud officer, Orbit learned that a tenant had been illegally subletting an Orbit home in Bexley for several months. Three unsuspecting subtenants were led to believe that the tenant owned the property and paid a significant amount of rent to live in the flat. This rent was much higher than the affordable rent that Orbit charges its tenants.
The subletting came to light when one of the subtenants requested their deposit back from the tenant and made threats to report how many people were living in the flat to the London Borough of Bexley. As a result, the tenant forced them to leave the flat by removing the main electricity supply from the premises. This led to two families in the property approaching the local authority as homeless and it was then that it came to light that it was an Orbit property. Orbit’s tenancy fraud officer then conducted a further investigation and gathered evidence to support a court case.
At Dartford County Court on 28 August 2015, a district judge ordered that the tenant repay Orbit £3,668 by way of an Unlawful Profit Order as Orbit had successfully proven that the tenant had sublet the premises and made a profit from doing so. She was also ordered to pay costs and Orbit South was granted possession of the premises.
Unlawful Profit Orders were introduced through the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 and give social landlords powers to recover profits made from tenants illegally subletting its homes. Orbit South takes tenancy fraud seriously and will take action it when we have enough evidence to do so. We encourage anyone who suspects tenancy fraud with regards to our homes to let us know.
Mark Connolly, tenancy fraud officer at Orbit South says; “We were keen to obtain an Unlawful Profit Order in this case as we do not tolerate fraud. This is a clear message to those sub-letting that housing association cheats will be pursued to the fullest extent of the law. We will work proactively to ensure that homes that are sublet are recovered and allocated to people who genuinely need them.”
If you suspect tenancy fraud with regards to an Orbit property in your community, please contact our dedicated tenancy fraud officer at firstname.lastname@example.org or via our Customer Service Centre on 0800 678 1221.