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Council regains possession of property from fraudulent tenant

Published date

Harlow Council has sent out a warning to anyone thinking of committing housing fraud after its housing and legal teams recently successfully regained possession of a council home from a tenant who was not living there, in a trial heard at Cambridge County Court.

The property in question, a two-bedroom home in Ram Gorse, relates to an investigation which began in 2018. The council had reason to believe that the tenant of this home was not actually living there. The council's Housing Fraud Officer carried out a detailed investigation, working with third-party agencies to gather evidence which proved the tenant wasn't living there.

Despite requests for the tenant to return the property to the council, they insisted that they were indeed still living there - this left the council with no other option than to refer the case to court.

Proceedings were issued by the council's Legal team in December 2019 to regain possession, which the tenant chose to defend. Delays in the case, caused by the coronavirus pandemic, led to the trial not taking place until May of this year at Cambridge County Court. It was during the trial that the tenant withdrew their defence. The council was awarded immediate possession of the property, with the tenant ordered to pay the council's costs amounting to £27,278.00.

Commenting on the result, Councillor Simon Carter, Portfolio Holder for Housing, said:

“This is an excellent result for the council and means that the home can now be made available for someone on the Housing Needs Register.

“This case sends out a clear warning to anyone who is, or is thinking of, committing housing fraud in Harlow: It is a serious offence which can carry serious, and very expensive, consequences. It can also lead to people in desperate need of a home missing out on one.

“I want to thank both our housing and legal teams for all their work in securing another successful outcome.”

If you suspect housing fraud is being committed by someone, please let us know, in strict confidence, by emailing housing.fraud@harlow.gov.uk or calling 01279 446353.