Oxford City Council’s Investigation team provides tenancy fraud investigations on behalf of South Oxfordshire and Vale of White District Councils.
A woman from Great Milton has been ordered to pay £1,530 after pleading guilty to making a fraudulent application for social housing - the first time that someone has been convicted for housing fraud in South Oxfordshire.
Gillian Norris, 46, of Green Hitchings, Great Milton, appeared at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on 30 January, when she admitted the charge of knowingly or recklessly making a false statement in connection to the allocation of housing.
Magistrates heard how Ms Norris had been living in the three-bedroom SOHA Housing home in Great Milton for more than four years, having applied for the property via the housing register. However, when she submitted her application she failed to disclose that she already owned a three-bedroom home in Holyhead, Wales, which she was renting out to a family member.
Already owning a property would have disqualified Ms Norris from being eligible for social housing, meaning that the home in South Oxfordshire should have been made available to someone in greater housing need.
Ms Norris was caught following an anonymous tip-off and subsequent enquiries by SOHA Housing, South Oxfordshire District Council and Oxford City Council’s Investigation Team, which specialises in housing fraud. Following her guilty plea Gillian Norris was fined £250 and ordered to pay £1,250 and a £30 victim surcharge.
Cllr Jane Murphy, Deputy Leader for South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “Social housing is there to provide a vital resource for those who are in genuine need and do not have the money available to rent a home privately.
“We have a significant housing shortage, not just in South Oxfordshire but across the country, with people really struggling to find appropriate accommodation. By making and maintaining this fraudulent claim this lady has effectively deprived a family in genuine need of a house.”
Cllr Ed Turner, Oxford City Council Board Member for Finance and Asset Management, said: “Social housing fraud is not a victimless crime, as it means people in housing need spend longer on housing waiting lists and in temporary accommodation. This conviction was the result of excellent collaborative working between our Investigation team, SOHA Housing and South Oxfordshire District Council, and we hope it sends a clear signal that housing fraudsters will not be tolerated in Oxfordshire.”
The councils are now working to recover the property so that it can be made available again on the housing register.
If you suspect that someone is fraudulently living in a social housing property, please contact:
Oxford residents - 01865 252222, email firstname.lastname@example.org or report it through the council website or app.
South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse residents - 01235 422483 or email email@example.com