There was a muted little piece on the councilâ€™s website last Wednesday about subletting, accompanied by the unadvertised video above made by the council which had had 14 views when I looked at it.
The council is giving council tenants who are subletting their council houses until the end of March to come clean and give up their tenancies. There is too much of this going on. The council has already caught 56 people doing this since July 2011 without the threat of legal sanctions. Since October of last year it has been a criminal offence (potentially resulting in 2 years in prison) to sublet a council home as a result of new government legislation.
It is good to see the council acting on this. Maybe it could have done so 6 months earlier?
It has been suggested that potentially up to a fifth of Ealingâ€™s 18,000 council houses may be fraudulently sublet â€“ that is potentially 3,600 homes, a good proportion of the councilâ€™s 10,000 waiting list. The numbers put into context Labourâ€™s modest manifesto pledge to build 500 council houses in four years.
As is too often the case the council doesnâ€™t mention in its press release that it has received Â£200,000 from the government to pursue subletters as part of a Â£19 million government programme.
A couple of years ago the Labour administration appointed some of its Labour friends to take part in a Â£25,000 Housing Commission. You will search the final report in vain for the words “fraud” or “sublet”.
I suspect what we are seeing here is the officers trying to do their job whilst their political masters are unwilling to face this issue.
It has taken the government legislation to galvanise the council on this issue. There is a great prize to grasped for people in housing need if the council chooses to do so.