Former tenant prosecuted for subletting and Right to Buy fraud
Ryan Cooper, 36, of Cobb Green, Watford, was sentenced in Blackfriars Crown Court on Thursday 8 November 2018 after pleading guilty to illegal subletting and fraudulently applying for a Right to Buy.
Mr Cooper had been the council tenant in a one bedroom flat in Casterbridge House, Abbey Road, since 2001. He applied to purchase the property under the Right to Buy Scheme in 2018. It was discovered that he had vacated the flat several years earlier and had been subletting the property while he was living in Watford with his wife and child.
Possession action was initiated and Mr Cooper returned the keys for the Abbey Road flat shortly thereafter.
Instead of advising Camden Council that he had left the property, Mr Cooper chose to illegally sublet the property and made an excess of £36,000 in profit as well as depriving someone on Camden’s waiting list, who was in genuine need of a home.
Mr Cooper further attempted to de-fraud Camden Council by fraudulently applying to purchase the property under the Right to Buy scheme by claiming that he was living in the property. Had he been successful, Mr Cooper would have enjoyed the maximum discount of £108,000.
The Judge considered that this matter was so serious that a custodial sentence was appropriate, but felt able to suspend that sentence on this occasion. Mr Cooper was sentenced to a 16 month suspended sentence along with 200 hours community service.
Mr Cooper was also ordered to pay back the illegal profits he made through subletting and £2,925 towards the Council’s prosecutions costs.
Councillor Meric Apak, Cabinet Member for Better Homes at Camden Council, said: “We have a national housing crisis and as a result hundreds of people in Camden needing council housing or living in overcrowded accommodation. Fraud like this deprives one of our families in desperate need of a stable council home. We will take action wherever necessary to ensure our council flats are used as the homes they are intended to be.”
If you suspect someone is committing tenancy fraud, please let the Housing Investigations Team know by using Camden Council’s online referral form or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0207 974 5848.