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Tenant prosecuted for unlawfully subletting their tenancy

Green and Grey tower block

We prosecute those who break the law if they sublet their council property to someone else. All tenants are being reminded that it is a condition of their tenancy that they must not part with possession or sublet their property and, that if they do this, they are breaking the law. On the 18th August 2021 at Sheffield Magistrates Court, we prosecuted Mr. Levi Soetan for unlawfully subletting his council tenancy at 199 Exeter Drive, Sheffield S3 7UD where he’s been a tenant for a number of years.

The property, a 2 bedroom flat on the 9th floor of a multi storey block, was advertised by Mr. Soetan on various websites, including Airbnb and Booking.com, as ‘Igloo TowerView City Apartment with Free Parking’.

In response to the listing on the Airbnb website, an Australian couple, who had travelled to Sheffield to study, rented the flat from Mr. Soetan and he charged them £330 per week between 8th October 2019 and the 21st January 2020.

Mr. Soetan made a profit of nearly £5,000 by unlawfully subletting the council flat whilst living outside of the city.  

In court, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a Community Order requiring him to perform 150 hours unpaid work. He was made the subject of an unlawful profit order requiring him to repay the profit of £4998.24 and was additionally ordered to pay court costs of £250.

Mr. Soetan will be served notice to quit the tenancy and excluded from future rehousing with Sheffield City Council.

Councillor Paul Wood, Executive Member for Housing, Roads and Waste Management at Sheffield City Council said: “With the number of council homes that we have in Sheffield, which isn’t enough, we work hard to make sure that we allocate council housing as fairly as possible to those most in need of a home.

"When we see examples like this one we prosecute so that people are more likely to think twice before using a council house for personal gain. That’s not what council housing is for. It’s there to house those who need it.

“I would like to thank the councils officers for their prompt action in getting this case sorted.”

What is unlawful subletting

Unlawful subletting is when a tenant lets out their council home without the knowledge or permission of their local authority. Subletting a council tenancy is in breach of the Council’s Conditions of Tenancy and is a criminal offence covered by The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013.  Those found guilty of unlawfully subletting a Council tenancy can expect to have any profits taken from them. In the most serious cases, offenders can be sent to prison.

Sheffield City Council has a zero tolerance of this offence and anyone found guilty will be excluded from the Council’s rehousing registration list.

If anyone has any information about a council tenancy that may be being sublet, please contact Sheffield City Council call centre on 0114 2734567. All information given will be dealt with in confidence by our Housing Fraud Enforcement Officers.