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Subletting and Pt 6 waiting time on Iplayer

By J

People who unlawfully sublet social housing (often at a vast profit) are, in my view, dishonest and immoral fraudsters who deserve a range of punishments too awful for a family-friendly blog like this to describe. I suspect that the makers of Council Houses: Cheats and Victims (available on Iplayer, here) would agree with me. But, regardless of your views, the Panorama programme is a relatively watchable programme about social housing fraud (‘tho the attempts to link sub-letting to the problem of Pt 6, HA 1996 waiting times is perhaps less well done). Well worth an hour of your time.


J is a barrister. He considers housing law to be the single greatest kind of law known to humankind and finds it very odd that so few people share this view.


  1. XF

    What I noticed was that they seemed to mix up being allocated Council housing under Part VI with making an application as homeless under Part VII, as several of the subjects were clearly doing.

    If I may soapbox a bit, I do think it’s a bit rich that the mere writing of a letter (at the instigation of the applicant?) by their family allows a young person to effectively barge ahead of folks whose present accommodation does seem clearly unsuitable (the 9 folks in a 2.5 bed property for one, and the chap with the private rented property in severe disrepair seemed another). My impression (albeit only an impression) was that the couple whose parents wrote a letter slinging them out got ahead because they were better able to work the system than others. But then again, this is speculation based on a 60 minute documentary so don’t quote me on this.

  2. Stephen O'Neill

    The programme confused a priority under Part 6 (reasonable preference) with a homeless priority under Part 7. In our neck of the woods those who are [simply] homeless are awarded a 26-week priority for housing (above those with waiting time) whilst those owed a full rehousing duty (s.193(2) HA 1996) are awarded a 4-week priority. So-called because with appropriate bidding most will be rehoused within those timescales.

    • NL

      Heavens, Stephen. You clearly don’t live anywhere near where I work. Shall we just say that is not a common or general practice?

      But yes, I agree the programme mixed part 7 and part 6 in an unhelpful way. I suspect that these are subtleties that are beyond journos, let alone a prime time ‘current affairs’ programme.

  3. Stephen O'Neill

    The BBC website: ‘Tracking down England’s council house sublet cheats does little to put things right’. If the cost of subletting is £1bn a year to the tax payer I must be missing something. Half of council properties must be occupied by someone other than the tenant.

    The reference at the end of the article: “Homes for the deserving are now offered only to the desperate” is questionable reporting!

  4. Cait

    On waiting times – Stephen O Neil is reporting on a large northern authority in contrast to London authorities. While I would question whether rehousing within 4 weeks is common, I believe within a year still would be (which isnt the case in any london cases I have come across)

    As someone who works nationally – it really IS very different. Its still possible to find hard to let accommodation in many authorities out of the south east (hard to let because of size or because its in a horrible area) whereas almost anything would be under demand in London.

    Anecdotally – I reckon that the whole ‘selling on’ of tenancies is more lucrative and more common in London – both because of demand and (northern prejudice alert) because London authorities levels of innefficiency are so high they leave me breathless with shock.

    I can only think this is due to the high turnover of staff or something – but as an example – rent arrears levels for possession cases in London are almost always much much higher than those in other areas.

    Right to buy has made it a lot less ‘obvious’.
    Once upon a time, neighbours would know (even if the council didnt) I remember a conversation in a lift with some residents in my council block where two residents were talking about the rent they were paying (a lot more than council rent) In the past I would have assumed it was a dodgy sublet, now it is as likely to be a right to buy property … again more common in London as in the north far fewer flats have been sold.
    Similarly people doing the subletting now tell prospective tenants that they own the property – so the incoming ‘tenants’ dont even realise its a sublet until they get some kind of notice from the council.

    I couldnt bring myself to watch the programme – I knew it would just make me shout at the TV.



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