Suspended sentence for attempted right-to-buy fraud

A man has received a suspended sentence for failing to tell his local council he had vacated the council property he had submitted an application for a right-to-buy purchase.

Mr Osmin Aygin, 36, was sentenced to 6 months in prison, suspended for 12 months for his failure to notify Greenwich Borough that he had vacated his council property and allowed other people to live there. This is the first prosecution by the Royal Borough of Greenwich under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act.

Aygin had submitted two fraudulent Right to Buy applications in March and September 2015 in an attempt to purchase the one bedroom flat he had moved into in 2011.

As well as his suspended sentence he was also ordered to carry out 100 hours unpaid work, given a ten week curfew and ordered to pay costs of £2,000. The Council say he also agreed to pay £3,000 to the Borough for it’s financial losses as a result of being unable to provide emergency accommodation to those in genuine need of a one bedroom flat.

Prior to any Right to Buy application being approved, the Royal Borough’s Unauthorised Occupation team undertakes checks to ensure that the tenant purchasing the property is still resident, and that it is not being sublet to others.

The checks identified that Mr Aygin had financial links to a property in Swanley, Kent, and the matter was referred to the Royal Borough’s Internal Audit and Anti-Fraud team for a criminal investigation to commence.

Using new powers provided to local authorities under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013, full details of Mr Aygin’s bank accounts were obtained and it was clearly visible that he was resident in the Swanley area.

In October 2015 Mr Aygin was interviewed under caution where he accepted that he had not been a resident at the Royal Borough property since March 2015 and had allowed another person to live there.

It comes as a Radio 4 investigation revealed 721 of 4,538 Right-to-Buy sales conducted by ten authorities were to tenants on housing benefit, who were unlikely to be able to afford such a purchase.

Councillor Maureen O’Mara, Cabinet Member for Customer Services, said: “The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act has given Council investigators much-needed powers to combat tenancy fraud and get back properties for those that genuinely need them.

“This is the Royal Borough’s first successful prosecution under this act and it is hoped that anyone else who is found to have sublet a much-needed council property will also have the same fate as Mr Aygin.”

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