Landlords legal expenses insuranceA housing association has won a judgement of £31,000 plus costs against a tenant who was living abroad and sub-letting their property.

An investigation by one of the Viridian’s fraud officers revealed the fraud had taken place over two years and seven months.

The case was won by the 16,000-home landlord at a hearing before a district judge at Wandsworth County Court on 26th February.

The tenant cannot be named as they are currently under investigation by the Department for Work and Pensions for benefit fraud.

Katrina Robinson, head of legal services at London-based Viridian and also chair of the Tenancy Fraud Forum, says she believes it is the first case of its kind.

“A decision was made to enforce the Unlawful Profit Order as we do not tolerate fraud,” she said.

“This is a clear message to those sub-letting that social housing is for those in need and anyone found to be profiting from this will be pursued to the full extent of the law.

“We can enforce the order in Europe. There is a process you can go through to enforce a county court money judgement in another country and once we’ve gone through that process we absolutely will [be getting the money back].”

The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 was brought into effect in November 2013 and section 5 of the act, Unlawful Profit Orders, allows social landlords to seek a money judgement in respect of any unlawful profit made as a result of sub-letting their social home.