A solicitor and former Tower Hamlets Labour councillor has been sentenced to a 16 months in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of housing fraud.
Mohammad Harun had represented the Lansbury ward on Tower Hamlets Council following the local government elections in May 2018, before standing down in December 2018 when the fraud investigation was first announced.
In addition to the prison sentence, the court ordered Harun to pay Tower Hamlets Council £124,679.94 in compensation for providing him and his family with social housing that could otherwise have been used to accommodate a homeless family. He must also pay £7,000 in court costs.
Following a tip-off, the council’s housing fraud team began investigating the circumstances around Harun’s application for social housing. Charges were then brought against Harun for failing to disclose relevant facts that affected his eligibility for social housing.
Harun claimed that his family needed temporary housing because they were being evicted from their existing property at Solander Gardens, E1. Having been awarded temporary accommodation by the council, Harun then purchased a property at Lancaster Avenue in Barking whilst continuing to benefit from temporary accommodation.
Harun would not have been eligible for social housing from the moment he bought another property and he had a legal duty to disclose this change in circumstances to the council, which he failed to do.
In a statement, Will Tuckley, Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets Council, said: “This case sends a very clear message that whoever you are, you cannot expect to get away with fraud and depriving a homeless family of a safe and secure home.”
“With one of the fastest growing populations in the country, and 20,000 people on our housing waiting list, knowingly taking away such a precious resource is not only illegal but unforgivable.”
Anyone who has information that a council property may be illegally sublet or suspects housing fraud, can contact the dedicated housing fraud team on 0800 528 0294 or email: email@example.com
Harun is now also subject to an investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.