This followed an investigation by the Hertfordshire Shared Anti-Fraud Service (SAFS) on behalf of the council.
The court heard that Ali had commenced sub-letting his 1 bedroom flat at Thricknells Close, Marsh Farm, Luton just months after he was allocated the council property in 2017. Ali was found to have sub-let his council home to multiple sub- tenants over a period of 3 years, whilst he lived elsewhere. The investigation uncovered that Ali was utilising the services of two local lettings agents to rent out the property, purporting to them that he owned the property. Ali was making a profit from the criminal activity as he was charging the tenants more than the rent he paid to the council for the flat.
Ali had also submitted a fraudulent Right to Buy application to purchase the property where he claimed he was living at the flat as his main home. This application was rejected by the Local Authority due to the findings from the fraud investigation.
Luton Council had commenced civil proceedings to obtain possession of the property during which Ali surrendered the property back to the council prior to the hearing.
Ali was sentenced to a three month Community Order and Curfew. An Unlawful Profit Order was also made and he is required to pay the sum of £7,941.60 to the council in addition to £4,669.31 in costs incurred by the council.
In an un-related matter another council tenant also summonsed for Unlawful Sub-letting agreed to an out of court settlement by surrendering their property and contributing to the council’s legal costs.
The tenant was attempting to purchase the property through the Right to Buy Scheme when it was discovered that the property was being unlawfully sub-let. The tenant had also utilised the service of a local lettings agent in order to rent out the property, purporting to be the owner of it. The tenant was made aware of the investigation and ceased sub-letting the property. After criminal proceedings were brought against the tenant for Unlawful Sub-Letting, the tenant agreed to surrender the property and reimburse the council the legal costs in the case.
Councillor Tom Shaw, portfolio holder for housing, said: “At a time when councils are facing increasing pressures to house people it is really galling for those genuinely seeking a place to call their home, to discover others are attempting to deceive local authorities in order to make a profit.
"Luton Council is committed to doing it all it can to ensure people are honest when they make applications for council housing and if we discover any instance of fraud, we will do all we can to prosecute offenders and place the property they have falsely acquired in the hands of those who most need it.
“These successful prosecutions show the value of our work with the Hertfordshire Anti-Fraud Service as together we seek to protect public funds and ensure fairness for all.”