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MP in call to get tough on East Lancashire cheating tenants
9:00pm Monday 29th October 2012 in News
AN East Lancashire MP is urging tough new laws that could see social housing tenants who sub-let their properties for profit jailed for two years.
A new private members bill is currently going through parliament and is being championed by Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry.
The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Bill is designed to make illegal sub-letting of social housing a criminal offence, create effective deterrents and allow for proceeds of sub-letting to be reimbursed to social landlords, against whom the fraud was committed, rather than the state.
Estimates suggest that between 50,000 and 160,000 social homes are unlawfully occupied across the country.
Tenancy cheats can earn thousands of pounds a year renting their social homes out to private tenants. Anyone caught at present faces losing their tenancy.
The bill, which passed its second reading, is supported by the government and was also welcomed by Labour. It reached the crucial Committee stage this week.
Mr Berry said: “I attended the committee hearing and gave my backing to the Bill. It will free up social housing properties in Rossendale and Darwen and tackle the real problem of unlawful sub-letting of social housing property across England and Wales.
“This Private Members Bill seeks to create a new criminal offence for the unlawful sub-letting of social housing properties and introduces measures that will see sentences imposed on offenders and rights for local authorities to recoup any unlawful profits made. Further measures introduced today extend the remit of the Bill to Wales and bring in much needed powers of data access for investigation and prosecution of the offence.
“I hope this vital legislation is passed as soon as possible so Rossendale Borough Council has the right tools to tackle this fraud and provide effective deterrents, to prosecute offenders and free up houses.”
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