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Orbit exposes tenancy fraud on London housing estate

A rogue customer who was found illegally sub-letting his social housing flat by Orbit’s tenancy fraud officer, has been successfully prosecuted by the London Borough of Bexley under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013.

At Bexley Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 19 October, Faruq Hameed (27), of Bainbridge Road, Dagenham, Essex, pleaded guilty to two charges of dishonestly sub-letting his social housing flat at Cobham House, Boundary Street, Erith, being in breach of his terms of tenancy.

A witness statement from one of the sub-letters confirmed that she had paid Mr Hameed £650 per month between May 2014 and December 2015. The Court was told that the rent charged by Orbit at the time was £482.71 and so Hameed, whose rent was paid by Housing Benefit at the time, had been making a profit.

Mark Connolly, Orbit’s tenancy fraud officer, said: “This has been an excellent example of working in partnership with the council to bring criminals to justice. I hope this sends a warning that illegal subletting of Orbit properties will not be tolerated.”

“With demand for social housing at an ever increasing level, it is totally unacceptable for a social tenant to sublet their home while there are so many people with a genuine housing need on the council’s housing register.”

Cllr Don Massey, Bexley’s Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Services said: “I am delighted with the successful prosecution. This offence cheats taxpayers and deprives the local authority of resources which could have been used for those with genuine housing need. We will do all we can to ensure that the Council’s scarce resources go to genuine claimants.”

Hameed, who has no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to the two charges.

For each charge Hameed was given six weeks imprisonment suspended for 12 months, to run concurrently; a community order for 80 hours of unpaid work and an Unlawful Profit Order for £4,800. He was also ordered to pay £500 costs and £80 victim surcharge and a collection order was made.