Southwark Council, London’s biggest social landlord, has launched a new tool to crack down on illegal subletting.
The new website (www.ilatch.co.uk) is designed to identify landlords that profit from unlawfully subletting their council properties to naïve tenants. The site checks a home’s number and postcode and
Southwark Council’s New Tool Cracks Down on Subletting
reveals whether the house or flat advertised to let is owned by the council or not.
If so, a report is immediately sent to Southwark Council’s fraud team for further investigation. The team has already discovered more than 1,000 properties in the past three years using data matching technology and tough occupancy checks.
At present, the crime costs the council thousands of pounds and puts its renters at risk of eviction if it is discovered that their property belongs to the council. Illegal subletting also reduces the amount of council homes being offered to genuine applicants.
Although the database is currently limited to council housing stock, Southwark Council plans to team up with housing associations, estate agents and local authorities across the country to form a greater deterrent for criminals.
Cabinet Member for Housing at Southwark Council, Councillor Richard Livingstone, says: “We want to make it as difficult as possible for anyone to illegally sublet in Southwark. Nationally, we’re recognised for our efforts to curb illegal subletting through data matching and vigorous tenancy checks.
“Now we are going further; catching fraudsters as soon as they try to let the property and preventing unsuspecting renters from the inevitable knock on the door from our fraud officers, followed by eviction.”
He adds: “With ever increasing pressures on council budgets, it’s absolutely vital that our limited housing stock goes to people in genuine need and not criminal landlords.”1
Director of estate agent Garrett Whitelock, Lee Whitelock, comments: “We’re delighted to be one of the first estate agents to sign up to ilatch and join Southwark in its fight against illegal subletting. The growing demand for housing presents opportunities for unscrupulous landlords to exploit renters.
“With ilatch, we can now take proactive steps to weed out these fraudsters and work with responsible landlords to provide quality homes to renters.”1