No response to Crawley council housing amnesty appeal

No one has responded to Crawley Borough Council’s housing amnesty appeal.

The council asked tenants who no longer live in their council property or are sub-letting to give their keys back to the council without fear of prosecution.

The two-month amnesty to provide homes for families on the housing register started on July 1.

Councillor Stephen Joyce, Cabinet member for Housing, said: “I would hope that in about another three or four weeks time we will have something.

“To be honest we are just trying, if we get none it’s not a bad thing to let people know they’ve the opportunity - if they’re caught they get a criminal record.

“We are just encouraging them to do the right thing - if you don’t need the properties give them up for somebody else who needs it.”

The keys can be returned to the Town Hall reception in an envelope with the address clearly written on it.

Chris Corker, the council’s corporate fraud manager, said each case of tenancy fraud cost the council an estimated £18,000 per year. The figures predicted there were 160 cases in the town per year. More than 70 council properties have been recovered since the tenancy fraud team was set up in 2011.

Mr Corker said its investigations were time-consuming. Some 20 Crawley cases were investigated at any one time. He said: “The amnesty’s just a quick way of getting a number of properties that at the moment we don’t know about.

“There may be properties that we would not have been able to get back through our normal means. We can never investigate everything that comes though to us.”

Prior to the amnesty launching, Mr Joyce said: “We don’t expect this amnesty to deliver huge results but even one or two properties will make the world of difference to those who get to live in them.

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