Council ‘tenant’ subletted Colindale home for 16 years while owning THREE properties
- Credit: PA ARCHIVE IMAGES
A greedy fraudster duped a council into giving him a home which he subletted for 16 years while owning THREE properties.
David Lawal even demanded Barnet Council find him a bigger property during his ‘tenancy’ claiming the two-bedroom home in Kingsbury Road, Colindale, was too small for his family.
When officers visited the council property they found he had installed a partitioning wall to maximise the number of rooms he could rent out.
The 56-year-old’s scam was uncovered when Lawal called the council to ask questions about a month-long tenancy fraud amnesty which took place in November 2013.
A suspicious worker carried out some background checks which triggered the full investigation that unravelled his audacious swindle.
Harrow Crown Court heard when he was housed in 1994 he already owned two homes in Plymouth, one jointly with his wife, and four years later he bought a third in Uxbridge.
After moving into his third home he illegally subletted his council home to a range of different tenants before handing back the keys in October 2014 almost a year after he contacted the council.
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Lawal was given a 14-month suspended jail sentence and must pay back the council £127,000, court costs of £20,000 and a victim surcharge of £100.
The £127,000 compensation order was calculated on how much it would have cost the council to house a family-of-four in temporary accommodation over the 16 years he subletted the property.
It must be paid back in six months.
Cllr Richard Cornelius, leader of Barnet Council, said: “Council homes are there for those in genuine need so it’s totally unacceptable for someone to abuse the system in such a brazen fashion as this, and over such a long period of time.
“Not only was this council house sublet but its tenant was the owner of three properties.
“This case, and the size of the compensation order which must be paid, sends out a very clear message to anyone who might be contemplating something similar.”