The Government has decided to have a campaign against unlawful sub-tenancies of social housing, or rather against the unlawful landlords and tenants both. The estimated figures are that between 50,000 and 200,000 social properties are occupied by unauthorised occupants and, given the utter lack of social housing and a waiting list estimated at at least 1.8 million households, they want something done.
What is to be done is apparently to pay tenants £500 to shop an unauthorised neighbour.
Local authorities are “expected to target 8,000 tenancy cheats in a first wave of investigations this week across 145 local authorities after a trawl of council records by the Audit Commission”. That leaves anything between 42,000 to 192,000 to deal with. (Is it just me having trouble with the mind boggling imprecision of that estimate? Look I know I owe you some money, I think it is somewhere between £50 and £200… There is no doubt that unlawful sublets are widespread and that in many of those cases, someone is profiting from social housing that they do not require. But an estimate like that is meaningless.)
192,000 at 500 quid a pop to the public spirited neighbours – I make that £96,000,000, probably double with the costs of possession proceedings, so £192,000,000. Hmm. I smell a PR stunt.
But there are further questions – do you only get the £500 if you shop a genuine unlawful occupation, or just someone a bit dodgy? And when do you get it – after successful possession proceedings? With Christmas coming up, the timing of such things is important.