Woman sentenced for Right to Buy fraud

A woman who bought her council home through the Right to Buy scheme has been prosecuted and forced to hand it back after admitting illegally subletting the property.

At the time when she bought her maisonette flat in Spinney Crescent, Dunstable, Jacqueline Gould, 37, falsely claimed she was living there.

Instead, the mother of two was subletting the property – illegally subletting is a criminal offence and in breach of her tenancy agreement.  It was also a criminal offence as it meant she stood to dishonestly gain from the Right to Buy scheme. That is where council and housing association tenants can buy their homes for significantly discounted rates.

Following an investigation, in November 2015 Gould pleaded guilty to one charge of illegal sub-letting and one charge of fraud. She appeared at Luton Crown Court for sentencing today (19 February) and was sentenced to ten months’ imprisonment, suspended for a year. She was also ordered to pay full prosecution costs of £2,531.69 while the Spinney Crescent property has now been transferred back to the council.

In his sentencing remarks the presiding judge said that he considered the offences to be very serious. He said that Gould is an intelligible woman who must have known she was not entitled to sub-let her council property and also must have realised she was not eligible to buy it under the Right to Buy scheme.

He added that this is a scheme intended to enable people to buy their homes to live in rather than operate some kind of market buy-to-let arrangement.

Councillor Richard Wenham, Executive Member for Corporate Resources, said: “Council housing is an incredibly valuable resource and there for people who need it, not to be abused in order to make a quick profit.

“It is a criminal offence to illegally sublet your council house, as it is to provide false information for a Right to Buy discount.”

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