Lewes District Council is hoping to tackle a shortfall in council housing by offering a no questions asked amnesty on illegal subletting.
The three-month amnesty will allow tenants who are illegally subletting, or not living in their council homes, to hand back their keys to the council without any legal action.
The council say the amnesty – which runs until February 28 – comes ahead of a major crackdown on tenancy fraud which will begin at the end of February.
Councillor Ron Maskell, lead member for housing at the council said, “Tenancy fraud is a criminal offence and extremely serious.
“Any tenants found illegally subletting their council home could face up to two years in prison and a fine of up to £50,000 and will have to pay back any profit they have made.
“We have a shortage of council properties, with over 1,700 people on our housing register. We have decided to offer a key amnesty for three months so that properties being fraudulently used can be retuned to us and allocated to those in need. Tenancy fraud stops people with a real need for housing from accessing a home.”
To take part in the amnesty tenants should leave their keys in an envelope marked with the property’s address in the Key Amnesty box.
The box can be found in the main reception area of the council offices in Southover House, Southover Road, Lewes, BN7 1AB.
The council have guaranteed no legal action will be taken against those who hand in their keys during the amnesty.
Tenancy fraud includes; giving false information or using false documents when applying for housing, fraudulently claiming succession or moving out and leaving grown up children in the property.
To report anonymously:Call 01273 484261 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The offence can also be reported at www.lewes.gov.uk/tenancyfraud.
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