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Right to buy dupery up 400% as England's councils detect record-breaking fraud levels

23rd October 2014

England's local authorities detected £188 million in fraud over 2013/14 and saw the amount of cases in which people tried to cheat on right to buy rise by 400%. The hefty figure - revealed in the Audit Commission's 'Protecting the Public Purse 2014: Fighting Fraud Against Local Government’ report - is the highest annual amount ever recorded since the Commission turned the spotlight on fraud in local government 25 years ago. In 2012 the government 'reinvigorated' the right to buy sch...

Rogue landlord demolishes 'bed in shed'

22nd October 2014

A rogue landlord has torn down a 'bed in shed' after the local authority threatened to do it for her. Hillingdon Council warned Rukhshana-Kausar Chaudry that if she failed to demolish the illegal outbuilding it would take direct action to knock it down under planning powers - and she would be billed for the work. A dawn raid was carried out on the outbuilding last year by council and home office enforcement officers, who confirmed it was being lived in and rented out. Mark Harper MP, immigration ...

Government must help younger renters, says housing law firm Winckworth Sherwood

21st October 2014

Renting a flat if you’re under 35 is now the "new normal" with a housing law firm urging the government to do more for young people looking for private rented sector (PRS) accommodation. According to a PRS all-party parliamentary group, planning restrictions, housing benefit rules and tax regulations need to be reviewed in order to help improve young adults' access to the market. Robert Flint, a solicitor for Winckworth Sherwood, said: "We need to recognise that renting a flat for under 3...

Opinion: How will the new ASB powers work?

20th October 2014

By John Cox, senior associate, Clarke Willmott LLP New legislation comes into force today that is designed to help local communities plagued by anti-social behaviour. The new act will provide greater powers to allow housing associations and landlords to re-possess homes, putting a swift end to nuisance neighbours, noise and criminal damage amongst other unacceptable behaviour. If there has already been a court decision proving anti-social behaviour, possession could be granted after a single c...

Landlord let vulnerable tenant live in squalor and misery for over a year

20th October 2014

A landlord has been branded unfit to let out property after allowing a vulnerable woman to live in squalor for a over a year. Ismail Wan repeatedly promised that problems at his property in Murray Street, Salford would be fixed - but in the end Salford City Council had to step in and carry out all the repairs. His tenant had to barricade herself into the home at night because the front and back doors had no locks or handles. The toilet leaked into the kitchen when flushed, water from the bathroo...

'Bedroom tax siege' man jailed

17th October 2014

A man who threatened to blow up his social home after bailiffs arrived to evict him because of arrears accrued under the bedroom tax has been jailed. Michael Hilton placed petrol and gas canisters around his home in Church, East Lancashire and told bailiffs he would detonate the fuels if they tried to enter. Hilton had fallen £900 into rental arrears with his social landlord Hyndburn Homes because of cuts to his housing benefit under the government's controversial bedroom tax. Police and...

Massive fine for rogue landlord who let out freezing flat

16th October 2014

A landlord who allowed his tenants to suffer a freezing winter with no heating or hot water has been fined more than £30,000. Unlicensed landlord Royston Cooper let out the home in Talgarth Road, Hammersmith to five architectural students, despite it having a broken boiler and a shared toilet that leaked waste. When Cooper ignored pleas to fix the boiler, the students complained to Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s private housing and health service, which investigated and took action ...

Housing associations to get new powers to fight ASB

16th October 2014

New legislation that will give housing associations more powers to tackle anti-social behaviour (ASB) will come into effect next week. Under the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014, if there has already been a court decision proving ASB, possession could be granted after a single court hearing, allowing HAs to re-possess homes more swiftly. Between April 1999-December 2013, 24,427 ASBOs were issued, with hotspots in Greater London, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands. Critic...

Council launches tenancy fraud amnesty

15th October 2014

Haringey Council has launched an amnesty for tenants that are illegally subletting their council homes. Crooked residents are being given until 20 December to come clean and hand back the keys to their properties without the risk of prosecution.  Last year subletting became a criminal offence, punishable with a prison sentence of up to two years or a fine of up to £5,000. In the last three years, the council has recovered more than 135 homes that were being illegally sub-let, allo...

Rogue 'beds in sheds' firm fined £16,000

14th October 2014

A rogue company has been ordered to pay more than £16,000 after it failed to demolish an illegal outbuilding it was renting out to a couple with a baby. An investigation by Hillingdon Council's beds in sheds team led to McKane Holdings' principle director, Shalini Largey, appearing at Uxbridge Magistrates' Court for sentencing this month. She had pleaded guilty on behalf of the company at an earlier hearing to failing to comply with enforcement notices requesting her to cease the illegal use ...