Getting tough on sub-letting

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TWO Wigan families have been prosecuted for sub-letting council homes, it has been revealed.

Wigan and Leigh Housing are getting tough with tenants who attempt to make extra cash in breach of their agreement.

It comes after new legislation was announced by the Government to stamp out the practice.

However, the organisation, which manages the borough’s 23,000 council homes on behalf of Wigan Council, said local authorities in the south of England faced much greater problems because of the pressure on housing availability there.

Sub-letting involves the tenant charging rent to another person who occupies all or part (for example a bedroom), of the property.

Such action over the whole property is a breach of the tenancy conditions. Where the case is proven, a court will grant possession of the property back to the council.

As well as being against the rules and providing income to the tenant, it also prevents a household on the waiting list from using the property.

Wigan and Leigh Housing encourages tenants to report any instances where they see sub-letting taking place and will then investigate and take appropriate action.

However, tenants who take in lodgers are still able to charge them for a room as long as they have notified Wigan and Leigh Housing about their intentions.

A spokesman for Wigan and Leigh Housing said that sub-letting wasn’t a significant problem in Wigan.

Since 2009 they have taken legal action against two tenants who have been guilty of sub-letting their council tenancy. But all complaints of sub-letting are investigated.

Council portfolio holder for Environment and Communities Coun Kevin Anderson said that Wigan and Leigh Housing took a serious view of tenants who sub-let.

He said: “As is shown by the relatively small number of legal cases taken, sub-letting isn’t a significant problem in Wigan.”

Chairman of Wigan Conservative Federation Michael Winstanley is strongly backing the Coalition Government’s move.

He said: “These proposals are well overdue and are necessary to stop tenants sub-letting. I find it amazing that the law allows this practice to happen. It can’t be right for a council house tenant to sublet their property to someone else. Given how many people are on the official waiting list it can’t be right.”