Tenant thrown out for ripping off tourists and a Harvard professor
By poppy_smith | Sunday, February 03, 2013, 16:06
A Camden council tenant has been evicted after illegally sub-letting his flat, making more than £40,000 a year, to tourists and a Harvard professor.
The council rent for the one bedroom flat at Tavistock Mansions in Bloomsbury was £103.64 per week, however the tenant was advertising it for rent at up to £900 per week on a property website. This represents a profit of nearly 900%.
The fraud was uncovered in August 2011 when council officers visited the flat to carry out an annual gas safety check and found German tourists in occupation. The tourists said that they had found the property through the website homeway.com and had been given the keys by the tenant who told them he was the landlord.
Further visits made to the property revealed other occupants other than the tenant who told officers that they were renting the flat privately.
Investigations revealed that the flat was advertised online as a 'stylish, comfortable, beautiful apartment in fashionable Bloomsbury' with prices of £750-£900 per week or £130 to £175 per night.
After he was contacted, the tenant alleged that he had not been living at the property because he had been ill and had let friends stay as he didn't like leaving the flat empty. The advert was removed from the website shortly afterwards.
In November 2011 the property was visited and this time there were American visitors in occupation; a Harvard professor and her husband. They said that their 'landlord' had told them not to answer the door to anyone.
Clerkenwell and Shoreditch County Court awarded an outright possession order on 24 July 2012, uncontested by the tenant and an eviction carried out this week on 8 January. The flat will now be let to someone in genuine housing need.
Camden council cabinet member for housing, Councillor Julian Fulbrook, said:
"I want to send a strong message to the minority of our tenants who break tenancy conditions that we do not tolerate this behaviour.
"This case shows that some someone was clearly motivated by greed to make money from social housing which is there for those in need. It is not only morally wrong but it is increasing waiting times for people who desperately need homes.
"Since April last year we have reclaimed nearly 90 homes which were being used unlawfully by their tenants and re-let them to persons and families in housing need from our waiting list."