London SE1 website team

SE1 estate agent fined for aiding and abetting housing fraud

An SE1-based letting agent has been fined for its part in the illegal subletting of a council flat in Brixton.

SE1 estate agent fined for aiding and abetting housing fraud
Fined: Nelsons at the corner of Southwark Bridge Road and Union Street

Maria Polonio, of Harper House, Angell Town, was prosecuted by Lambeth Council for subletting the flat that she rents from the council.

Letting agents Nelsons of Southwark Bridge Road were also prosecuted for aiding and abetting the commission of the offence.

Polonio returned to Portugal in December 2014 and asked Nelsons to rent out the property on her behalf.

Letting agents are required to check whether the person renting out a property is entitled to do so, but Nelsons failed to do so and the property was rented out from December 2014 until September 2015.

The council received an anonymous tipoff in July 2015 that Polonio hadn't been seen at the property for several months.

The next month investigators visited the flat and found sub-tenants living there.

The sub-tenants were paying rent at a significantly higher level than that charged by Lambeth council.

On 29 March 2016 Polonio entered guilty pleas to two charges under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 and was ordered to pay Lambeth costs of 816 and an unlawful profit order of 6,547.44, based on the profit she made in renting out the property.

Nelsons SE1 Limited (trading as Nelsons) pleaded guilty to one offence and were fined 1,000 and ordered to pay costs of 847.

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