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Acting on housing fraud

Dean Underwood and Leon Glenister examine the impact of the long-awaited Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013, and find it lacking

4 April 2013

The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 received Royal Assent on 31 January 2013, the legislative end of a national drive begun in 2009 at one time offering financial reward to those who 'shopped' subletting neighbours to clamp down on unlawful subletting and other housing fraud. The Act is expected to come into force this month.

It aims to ensure that social housing is occupied by those in greatest need and was foreshadowed by alarming statistics: an estimated 50,000 homes occupied unlawfully in 2009; 98,000 in 2012; and an annual cost to councils of 900m.

The overwhelming majority of responses to consultation in January 2012 sought a more effective deterrent. Offences under the Fraud Act 2006 had been used to prosecute high profile cases such as that of Kelly-Louise Goatley, who illegally sublet her flat overlooking Hyde Park at a profit of more than 23,000. However, like civil remedies, such as restitutionary damages and accounts of profit, they we...

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