A man has been given a suspended jail sentence for getting a Luton council house under false pretences.
Gary Fletcher, 48, of Mossdale Court, Luton, has pleaded guilty to three charges of dishonestly providing false information to obtain council housing from Luton Borough Council.
During a sentencing hearing on Friday 3 March, Fletcher was given 12 weeks custody for each of the three offences. These sentences are to be served concurrently and were suspended for 12 months. Fletcher was also ordered to pay £365.
An investigation was conducted by Bedford Borough Council’s investigation team, working in conjunction with Luton Borough Council’s, housing services, who identified that Fletcher had completed three application forms in order to obtain a Council property and had failed to declare on each of these forms that he already jointly owned a property in Cowper Street, Luton.
The investigation found that Fletcher, who was granted a Council property in 2011, eventually sold the property he owned in Cowper Street, receiving over £44,000 from the proceeds of this sale.
Fletcher, who refused to be interviewed by the Council Investigators, pleaded guilty at the first hearing at Luton Magistrates Court on 1 March, when the matter was adjourned for the Probation Service to prepare a pre-sentence report.
The court heard that by committing the offence Fletcher had denied a genuinely homeless family of a home and caused the Council to pay increased costs for providing emergency accommodation to homeless families.
Cllr Tom Shaw, Portfolio Holder for housing, said: “This case identifies a serious abuse of council housing, which is a limited resource in Luton and should only be allocated to those most in need. With housing in Luton in such short supply offences such as this deprive genuine people of affordable housing and increase the amount of taxpayers’ money that has to be used to pay social housing costs.
“Luton Borough Council is committed to addressing the issue of homelessness in our area and one element of that is to identify and recover properties that have been fraudulently obtained and/or are being abused and ensure that they are allocated to the people most in need.”