Fraud investigators in Milton Keynes found a council tenant had moved to Australia and was raking in the money from sub-letting the one-bedroom property.
Acting on a tip-off in October 2017, the council launched an investigation where they spoke to the tenant who said he was living for six months in Australia, and the other half of the year in Milton Keynes.
Early in 2018, further checks revealed that the official tenant had left the property, and stopped paying rent, but someone was living there. A legal notice was served and the council recovered the keys to the property.
The two-storey, one bedroom house, in Tinkers Bridge, has now been re-let to a lone parent.
A council spokesperson said: “This case sends a message that we do not tolerate fraudulent sub-letting under any circumstances as it deprives people access to a council home who really need it.
“We’d like to thank council colleagues who led the investigation and the member of public who reported it in the first instance. We welcome calls like this from residents and would encourage others to get in touch if they have reasonable suspicion to believe a property is being sublet.”
The council received a wide range of referrals about possible fraud and outlines of successful cases were presented to the Audit Committee on Tuesday (March 5).
Some of the other cases included:
The successful conviction of a tenant and his son over the abandonment of a three bedroom house. The house has been recovered.
An applicant for housing and financial support had stated that he was destitute, but was found to be working. Such support can be worth £30,000, the report to councillors said.
They also investigated the actions of staff. One employee resigned following an investigation that revealed he had been working for another authority and had not disclosed this.
Another member of council staff was given a written warning for operating a personal business during council work time.
Anti-fraud officials are currently working on 29 cases and from April to December 2018 they received 137 referrals, including on council tax, housing, Blue Badges and social care payments.