The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act {Poshfa}

It is a criminal offence under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 to sublet a social property whether for profit or not.   

 

The penalty for doing so ranges from  a fine or up to two years in prison or both.  We have increasingly seen the Criminal Courts send offenders to prison for this offence.

Contracts

In situations like this, there are two contracts: Between the social landlord and the social tenant and between the social tenant and the people he or she illegally sublets the property to. 

 

There is no contractual link between the social landlord and the private tenant and the social landlord does not have to let the private people remain living in the property.  

Estate Agents

Estate Agents must check that the person who wishes to rent a property as a landlord has the authority to do so and simply asking ‘are you allowed to rent this’ is not sufficient in our view.

 

The Accommodation Agencies Act 1953 Section 1 (1) (c) states that: A person shall be guilty of an offence if that person issues any advertisement, list or other document describing any house or dwelling as being let without the authority of the owner of the house or his agent.

The onus is on the letting agent to ensure that the purported owner of the dwelling is in fact the true owner.  If this offence is committed, then the local authority are the prosecuting are the prosecuting body and the estate agent can receive a substantial fine.

Deposit Holding Scheme

If you have unwittingly entered into an agreement to rent a property from a social tenant and paid a deposit, then that deposit must be protected by the landlord putting it into a deposit holding scheme. 

 

This is so, in the event of a dispute when the unwitting tenant moves out, the holding scheme will arbitrate between the two parties.

Tenancy Agreement

Even if your social tenant landlord has not given you a tenancy agreement, that doesn’t mean you have any less rights in terms of your relationship with them. 

 

If they haven’t given you an agreement, then you’ll be regarded as an assured shorthold tenant which means you remain in the property for at least six months so long as you continue to pay the rent and do not cause any problems. 

Possession Action

Do remember, however, that if the housing association or council take possession action against your landlord, then the Bailiff will evict anyone who lives in the property and that might occur before six months has expired. 

 

You would then have a right of action against your landlord for compensation and you would need to take legal advice from a solicitor, Law Centre or CAB to establish your rights.

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The Tenancy Fraud Forum's main aims is the prevention of illegal subletting and to information and guidance relating to tenancy fraud.