A council tenant has received a nine month suspended sentence for two years and has paid £85,000 in compensation after illegally subletting his social housing, discovered by Westminster Council’s Corporate Anti-Fraud Service (CAFS).
Legal action was taken against Saeed Azimi, 33, after it was found he was subletting his socially rented flat in Lenthall House, Pimlico, whilst also owning another three properties. Mr Azimi was given a place to live in 2011 and went on to rent it out to three separate residents over the course of five years.
The council tenant applied to purchase the property under the Right to Buy scheme, where the application was investigated by CAFS. He was discovered to have been living with his parents whilst renting out the council flat, as well as the other three properties he owned.
Mr Azimi was given a nine month suspended sentence for two years and has paid £85,000 in compensation, plus £17,500 in costs, for illegally subletting.
Cllr Heather Acton, Cabinet Member for Public Protection and Licensing, said: “There is a national housing shortage. Social housing is much-needed to provide homes for our residents and this tenant has been deceitful in letting out his home.
“Subletting a council property is illegal. As well as being financially greedy, the tenant deprived another resident a home. Now this tenant’s fraudulent activity has been discovered, someone in genuine need on the waiting list will be given a place to call home.”
Westminster City Council has a specialist council team set up to tackle abuses of short-term lettings. The council is calling on the Government to introduce a compulsory cross-platform registration scheme for property owners, so councils know what properties are being short term let and for how long.
Last year, Westminster successfully recovered 24 social housing properties from fraudsters meaning they can now be allocated to residents in need of a new home.