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Damages awarded to local housing authority in tenancy fraud case

Robert Brown acted for Greenwich RLBC in a case where the authority was awarded damages of almost £70,000 against a former tenant who did not tell the authority that he owned another property.

The defendant had applied to Greenwich for housing assistance in 2003. On his application form he stated that he did not own any residential property. In 2005, he purchased a house in Plumstead. He did not notify the authority about this. In 2009, the authority offered the defendant a tenancy of a flat in Lee. As part of the sign-up process, the defendant confirmed that his housing circumstances had not changed since he made his housing application and that he had no other accommodation to live in as his principal home. The defendant was granted a tenancy and moved into the flat.

Some years later, the authority began fraud enquiries and discovered that the defendant owned the Plumstead house, which was being rented out. In 2015, the defendant pleaded guilty to five offences, including an offence of fraud by false representation contrary to Fraud Act 2006, s.2. He was then sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment.

The authority commenced civil proceedings, in which they claimed damages of £69,842.64 for fraudulent misrepresentation. This was based on the authority’s calculations of the cost of securing one unit of temporary accommodation for other applicants for housing during the period in which the defendant was the tenant of the flat.

After a trial in the Central London County Court, HHJ Saggerson found for the authority and ordered the defendant to pay damages of £69,842.64 and the authority’s costs.

More details about this case can be found here.