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Tower Hamlets holds housing amnesty

42Tower Hamlets Council, Tower Hamlets Homes and local housing associations today launched a housing amnesty across the borough.
The initiative will help recover illegally sublet social housing and stamp out fraud, costing residents and the council an estimated £13m per year.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said: “It is wrong for people to make a quick buck at the expense of those who desperately need a permanent home.
“Illegal sublets have a serious social and economic cost. Our priority is to get social housing back, to support the people on our housing list and to protect the public purse.”
Cllr Sirajul Islam, Statutory Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Housing Management & Performance, added: ”There is a national shortage of social housing. In Tower Hamlets we are committed to ensuring that this important resource is delivered to those who need it. We will honour the amnesty, but we will use all our powers to stamp out tenancy fraud going forward.”
The amnesty runs until March 6, giving tenants the chance to hand back their keys to the council or housing association, without consequence, if they are illegally subletting properties.
Tenancy fraud is a criminal offence. Prosecution by the council can incur a prison sentence, a criminal record or a fine for £5000.
Amy Sictorness, age 22, from Bethnal Green has just secured a two bedroom property as a result of the council tackling tenancy fraud.

Amy has made 200 bids for a home since 2012.  She was successful in getting a tenancy in November 2015, providing a home to her five month old daughter, Lucia.

Amy said: “A home is so important. My daughter now has the space to grow and develop and reach her full potential. It is shocking that people use social housing to make money. It means that people like me wait longer than we should for a home. I am glad that I have a home in Tower Hamlets so that I can stay close to my family and friends who can give support to me and Lucia.”

Susmita Sen, Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets Homes, said: “I am very pleased that we were able to accommodate Amy. Demand for our housing is high, and tenants who illegally sublet disadvantage families, young people and those who need a place to call home. “