Social tenant ordered to pay over £155,000 for tenancy fraud

A woman has been ordered to pay over £155,000 after she sublet a London flat owned by Riverside over a 12-year period.

A woman has been ordered to pay over £155,000 for unlawfully subletting her social home in what is believed to be one of the UK’s largest ever tenancy fraud cases.

On 3 June 2021, Clerkenwell & Shoreditch County Court found that Adejoke Patience Ologe, 56, had rented out her two-bedroom flat in Camberwell, South London to two women and their children for over a decade despite renting the home herself from Riverside housing association.

In addition to granting Riverside outright possession of the flat, the court ordered Ologe to pay Riverside £145,178 of profit made from the sublet, as well as £3,000 of rent arrears and £9,955 of legal costs.

The Unlawful Profit Order is believed to be the second largest ever issued in the UK, based on a calculation that Ologe had received £216,000 from the fraud over a 12-year period.

Andrea Thorn, director of homes and communities at Riverside, said: “This was a blatant, dishonest fraud. With social housing in huge demand, it’s vital we pursue such cases in order to make properties available to families and individuals who will act honestly and deserve them.

“When I speak to our customers, I know nothing annoys them more than when they follow the rules and others flout them and get away with it, so, I hope this sends a clear message to them – we can and will take action.”

Officials’ suspicion in the flat first arose after a long period with no contact from Ologe, leading them initially to believe the flat had been abandoned.

Riverside’s counter fraud team worked in partnership with Oxford City Council and other local authorities to investigate the issue.

Investigators eventually uncovered the unlawful sublet and obtained evidence showing that Ologe had not lived at the property since at least 2008.

Scott Warner, counter fraud manager of Oxford City Council, added: “This is a landmark case that really demonstrates the value of our partnership working approach with Riverside.

“Social housing fraud is often seen as a hidden crime but the effect is felt far and wide. With the demand for social housing, unlawfully subletting a property means a deserving family are unable to occupy a home and may need to reside in expensive, unsuitable temporary accommodation for longer than is necessary.”

Katrina Robinson MBE, associate solicitor at Capsticks who dealt with Riverside’s legal case, said: ”The perseverance and hard work of Riverside’s counter fraud specialist and Oxford City Council was more than enough to convince the judge to make the Order.

“The judge said ‘This was a serious abuse of public housing resources for personal gain. The court cannot condone it’.

“It is fantastic that the law and the judiciary are recognising the seriousness of tenancy fraud and the negative effects on communities across the country. It’s even better that social landlords such as Riverside are saying enough is enough.”

Cllr Ed Turner, Oxford City Council’s cabinet member for finance and asset management, said: “The City Council is committed to countering public sector fraud in all its aspects, while making sure people claim what they are entitled to.

“We made a decision some years ago to invest in a dedicated, professional investigation service when many other councils were cutting back theirs.

“The result has been not only beneficial for Oxford but it also means we have been able to offer our services to other public bodies.

“This case serves as a warning to fraudsters that we will uncover fraud and deal with it.”

Image credit: Pixabay

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