Social Housing Fraud Act claim by council fails and tenant re-housed
Moss & Co were instructed to defend this Prevention of Social Housing Fraud claim. Our client was the tenant of a two bedroom council flat. He spent much time away in Africa. He allowed a “friend of a friend” to stay there and pay money towards the costs.
The Council wanted to demolish the block and when they started to make enquiries about re- housing the existing tenants they found that our client was not in residence and obtained a statement from the person in occupation. Our client returned from his travels to find that the council had issued possession proceedings against him under section 5 of the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 alleging an unlawful subletting. Alternatively the council claimed possession under Ground 10 of Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1985 arguing that they wished to demolish the block. They denied any obligation to re-house on the grounds that our client had parted with possession and that the flat was no longer his main of principal home.
Narinder Moss, our Prevention of Social Housing Fraud expert, carefully analysed all the documents and prepared a full defence arguing that following the Court of Appeal case of Amoah v. London Borough of Barking and Dagenham 2001 it is possible to remain in occupation of premises whilst being physically absent. It is a martter of “fact and degree” whether when a tenant is absent, even for long periods of time, they can be said to have given up their home. In this case our client saidd he had kept a room and furniture at the flat.
We further collected evidence that showed our client to be registered to the flat at his Doctors and neighbours confirmed that they knew him as the tenant. After service of the defence the Council withdrew their claim for possession and agreed to re-house our client.