Fraudster convicted for illegally sub-letting housing association property
Following a sentencing hearing at St Albans Crown Court on 24 February 2023, Karen Chilton, previously of Cheshunt, Hertfordshire has been sentenced to a 12-month custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months, following her conviction for illegally sub-letting her Catalyst Housing Association property.
In addition, £5,168.44 must be repaid by Ms Chilton as part of an Unlawful Profit Order.
On 1 February 2023, Ms Chilton (aged 50), formerly of Bexfield Court, Cheshunt, appeared before St Albans Magistrates’ court where she entered guilty pleas to four charges under the Fraud Act 2006 and one charge under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013.
Hertfordshire County Council’s Shared Anti-Fraud Service (SAFS) received an allegation that Ms Chilton had been subletting her social housing property since at least 2019. An investigation revealed that she had remarried and moved to the Isle of Wight but failed to notify her landlord, Catalyst Housing, part of the Peabody Group, that she had left the property.
The investigation uncovered several documents used by Ms Chilton to conceal her living arrangements and the attempts she made to transfer the tenancy to a sub-tenant, including the forgery of a signature. She also continued to receive money from a sub-tenant whilst they ‘rented’ the property.
The property was recovered following the investigation and has since been let to a family in genuine need.
Chris Newton, Assistant Director of Customer Services (North Counties) at Catalyst, said: “Partnership working is fundamental to tackling social housing fraud and ensuring a system that is fair and accessible to those in need. By working together to gather information, bring the case to court and recover this property, we have provided a family with a permanent new home. It’s another win for our housing team, the Hertfordshire shared anti-fraud service, and ultimately our customers”.
The Shared Anti-Fraud Service works in partnership with Local Authorities and Registered Social Landlords to investigate and prosecute allegations of fraud against the many services delivered by the council.