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York Council House Tenant Ordered to Give Back House


3:44pm 25th October 2013

A court ruling yesterday has ordered an absent council tenant to give up his home and return it to City of York Council.

The council took action against Colin Cain on the basis that he had not been living at his council home, 27 Woolnough Avenue – a three bedroom property – for a considerable length of time. The council argued that Mr Cain’s principal home during the period in question was 44 Wigginton Road, York which he owns.

The investigation was carried out by Veritau, a company which investigates fraud in the public sector, and by City of York Council.

In a two day trial at York County Court evidence was heard from Veritau officers, Mr Cain and members of the public. District Judge Wildsmith then granted a possession order for the Woolnough Avenue address with immediate effect and ordered Mr Cain to pay £10,000 in court costs.

Cllr Tracey Simpson-Laing, Cabinet Member for Health, Housing and Adult Social Care, said: “This verdict is very pleasing as it returns a much-needed family home to urgent and legitimate use: with nearly 3,000 on our waiting list, the demand for affordable social housing is very high.”

Councillor Linsay Cunningham-Cross, City of York Council’s Cabinet Member for Crime and Stronger Communities, said: “We will not let our council homes be exploited at the expense of some of our most vulnerable people. Misuse of council properties costs everyone too dearly to allow anyone to get away with it. I appeal to any residents with concerns that social housing may be being abused, to come forward and help us return it to proper use.”

This judgment comes in the same month as new legislation has been introduced under the Social Housing Fraud Act which makes it a criminal offence to sub-let social housing.

How to spot a potential fraudster:

  • If you never or only very rarely see the tenant. If a property is empty or not being lived in, it should be made available to someone who needs it
  • If the tenants of a housing association or council property keep changing, it could be unlawfully sublet with the real tenant making money from it. It’s estimated that 50,000 social housing properties across the UK are being unlawfully sublet
  • Do you know someone who has lied in order to be housed? They may have lied about where they used to live, how many people are in their family, or about other property they own. Lies like these take homes from people in greater need.

Do you have suspicions? If so, we need your help to tackle this problem. To report suspected housing fraud in complete confidence, please call Veritau’s fraud hotline on 01904 552935 or email counter.fraud@veritau.co.uk.

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