High court overturns SPO and gives unprecedented UPO guidance
PoplarHARCA v (1) Begum (2) Rohim  UKHC 2040 (QB)
"... it is not compassionate to allow profiteering fraudsters indefinitely to continue to occupy premises and thereby exclude from such accommodation more needy and deserving families."
The High Court has overturned a suspended possession order in a case concerning the partial sub-letting of social housing.
In the first case to consider the proper interpretation of section 5 of the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013, it has also ordered the tenants to yield up their unlawful profits.
Dean Underwood and Pupil Liam Wells explain the judgment.
The Respondents were the assured tenants of social housing in Poplar – a two bedroom flat, which they occupied with their children. They received Housing Benefit to cover their rent in full. In about August 2015, they moved out of the flat and went to live with the First Respondent's mother. They sublet the flat to a couple, at a rent of £400 pcm, but retained one bedroom, containing children's belongings, to convince their landlord – should they need to – that they still lived there.
On 12 November 2015, their landlord visited the flat and the mother's house simultaneously, accompanied by local authority fraud officers and a BBC camera crew. They found the Respondents and their children at the mother's house; the flat sublet; and the retained bedroom padlocked shut. The Second Respondent later evicted the sub-tenants unlawfully, threatened to burn their clothes and bragged that he would 'get away with it'. He and the First Respondent then moved back into the flat with their children.
Six months later, the police raided the flat and found the Second Respondent in possession of cannabis; and drug dealing paraphernalia in the kitchen, including scales, dealing bags and calling cards.