Croydon council is hoping to launch a month long amnesty for any social housing tenants that are illegally subletting their homes.
If the scheme is approved by the Council’s cabinet on Monday 20 January, it will run throughout February, and allow those that partake in illegal subletting to hand in their keys anonymously with no fear of prosecution.
The plans come after the Social Housing Fraud Act came into effect last October. Under the new law, illegal subletting was changed from a civil to a criminal offence, with perpetrators facing up to two years in prison.
It is estimated that nationally, around 98,000 properties may be subject to tenancy fraud, at a cost of £900m to the taxpayer every year.
In the recommendations to be put before the Council cabinet, it is expected that the amnesty will reduce the level of illegal subletting in the borough and increase awareness about the new laws.
As part of the scheme the Council would also encourage residents to report those tenants they suspect of illegally subletting their council properties when the amnesty finishes.
Councillor Dudley Mead, cabinet member for housing said: “With a shortage of housing for those in greatest need of it, fraudsters who illegally sublet their homes are depriving struggling families of the right to a suitable home.”
He added: “This is a criminal offence, and while this amnesty is a chance for those who are breaking the law to think again and do the right thing, we will be coming down strongly on those that ignore it and think they can get away with it.”
The proposals follow similar schemes carried out by local authorities and housing groups. Last year, Camden Council, Enfield Council and London’s biggest housing association, G15, ran month-long amnesties.