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Former Crawley tenant guilty of illegally sub-letting

A former Crawley Borough Council tenant has been found guilty of illegally sub-letting her council home and making an unlawful profit from doing so.

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Kerry Sowe, 42, of Lancing Close, Ifield pleaded guilty to an offence under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 and was ordered to pay an Unlawful Profit Order to the council of £4,570 and costs of £1,970 at Crawley Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday (October 16).

Crawley Borough Council received a fraud referral in February alleging that Mrs Sowe, then a council tenant of Ditchling Hill, Southgate, had illegally sub-let and parted with possession of the whole of her council property and was living in Gambia at the time.

The case was passed to the council’s Corporate Fraud Investigations Team, which undertook a thorough investigation.

Evidence was gathered to show that Mrs Sowe had left the country for a large period of time, illegally sub-let the property and made a profit from doing so. She was interviewed by council investigators where an admission was first offered.

Mrs Sowe was served with a notice to quit the property by the council’s Housing Team as she was in breach of her tenancy terms. The property was returned to the council’s stock in April and has now been reallocated to a family with a true housing need.

When being sentenced the magistrates commented that Mrs Sowe had acted deliberately to maximise the profit for herself.

Councillor Peter Lamb, Leader of the Council said:

“We have almost 2,000 households on the waiting list so it’s vital that our housing goes to those most in need.

“This case demonstrates how seriously we take our responsibility to make sure that only those eligible for council housing receive the help they need.”

The council’s Corporate Fraud Investigations Team will investigate all aspects of fraud against the local authority and also run data matching exercises to try and find any fraud that has found its way into the system.

One of the regular checks that the team carries out is to make sure that people who claim a Single Person Council Tax Discount are actually entitled to it. So far this financial year the team has removed 29 discounts at a value of £16,105.

Anyone who thinks they know someone who has made a false application to claim services from the council, is not living at their council property, has been illegally evicted or has illegally sub-let it can contact the Corporate Fraud Investigations Team in confidence 24 hours a day on 0800 634 0180 or email investigations@crawley.gov.uk

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EXCLUSIVE: Henry Smith MP thanks Crawley for his re-election

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Speaking exclusively to Crawley News 24, newly re-elected MP Henry Smith has thanked residents of the town for their votes.

Henry also took a moment to answer some questions about the next steps.

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