Luton Council gives tenants the chance to avoid being prosecuted

Tenants who break the rules are being given a chance to change their ways and avoid being prosecuted by Luton Council.

Throughout November, tenants who wish to avoid the consequences of their actions can hand back their keys giving the council vacant possession and terminate the tenancy by going to the Town Hall, George Street, in return they will not face legal action of any kind.

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The council regularly runs checks to catch this type of behaviour and is becoming increasingly successful at prosecuting cheats.

The penalties can be severe, with a jail term of up to two years and fines of up to £50,000 possible.

Types of tenancy fraud include lying about circumstances in order to rent a home you would not otherwise be entitled to, subletting a home by moving out completely and charging other family members, friends or strangers rent on the home, falsely claiming to have been living in the house for a number of years after a tenant dies, pretending to have been caring for the former tenant, in order to be given the tenancy and abandoning the property without telling us.

Cllr Tom Shaw, portfolio holder for housing, said: “However it is done, tenancy fraud is a very serious issue. It restricts the amount of housing available for those with a genuine need and it wastes council tax payers’ money as we have to provide temporary accommodation.

"The amnesty is a chance to avoid the consequences of being caught by coming forward voluntarily.”

Once the amnesty is over, Luton Council will continue to work with the Shared Anti-Fraud Service at Herts County Council to investigate and take action against those committing tenancy fraud.

Last year a total of 21 properties were recovered and fraudulent Right to Buy applications were stopped due to the work of the housing team and the fraud services.

Any on-going investigations where legal action is pending will not be included in the amnesty.

Information relating to tenancy fraud can be provided by e-mail tenancyfraud@luton.gov.uk.