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This Act makes subletting the whole of a social rented dwelling a criminal offence. The Act extends to England and Wales and was brought fully into force in England on 15 October 2013 (The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 (Commencement) (England) Order 2013 SI 2013/2622.

There are various different types of tenancy fraud; this Act is primarily concerned with strengthening the powers of social landlords to tackle tenants who sublet the whole of their dwellings for a profit. Current estimates put the number of unlawfully sublet social housing dwellings at around 98,000. The National Fraud Authority estimates that tenancy fraud represents the second largest category of fraud loss in local government. The policy rationale behind the Act is to ensure that social housing is occupied by those in the greatest housing need.

The Government published Social Housing Fraud – Consultation in January 2012 the purpose of which was to invite views on whether the legislation in this area needed to be strengthened and, if so, how. Consultation closed on 4 April 2012; the summary of responses was published on 13 July, the same day as the debate on Second Reading. The responses to most of the proposals from social landlords and their representative bodies were positive. The Act implements some of the proposals on which the Government consulted; it:

• creates new criminal offences of unlawful subletting by assured and secure tenants in social housing;

• gives local authorities powers to prosecute in cases of unlawful subletting;

• enables courts to order the recovery of any profit made from unlawful subletting from tenants; and

• provides that assured tenants who unlawfully sublet the whole of their dwelling cannot subsequently regain their security of tenure.

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