Payback time for leaseholder caught renting out his Spitalfields council flat as a holiday let
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A leaseholder unlawfully renting out his flat on a social housing estate in Spitalfields has had to pay back all the cash he earned from it over four years.
He was faced with losing the flat, so he agreed to pay his social landlords £48,000 compensation including their legal costs.
The flat on the 1930s Holland former council estate off Commercial Street was advertised for up to £220 a night on various websites such as Booking.com, the landlords discovered.
The leaseholder, identified as Mr Singh, had ignored warnings by Eastend Homes that he was “breaking the law” by breaching the terms of his lease.
“It’s unlawful for leaseholders to advertise housing association or council flats on these websites,” Eastend Homes’ managing director John Henderson warned.
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“We’re obviously pleased that a tribunal ruling has found in our favour, so that we can re-invest this money back into the Holland estate.”
The housing organisation decided to forfeit the lease, following a tip-off from neighbours about the flat being rented out as a holiday let, until Mr Singh agreed to pay back the money.
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An application to the First Tier Tribunal found that he had breached the terms of his lease despite claims of “a former lodger” advertising the property without his knowledge.
Lawyers for the organisation traced the former “lodger” who they said told them he had never lived with Mr Singh, but had to share the flat with other people who only stayed a few days at a time. The tribunal ruled that the claim about a “lodger” was untrue.
Mr Singh continued to maintain that he had done nothing wrong and even provided a letter in support from his accountant.
But unfortunately for Mr Singh, his accountant had been removed from the register of chartered accountants last year because of allegations of dishonesty, the tribunal was told.
The housing organisation has now pledged to put the money from Mr Singh back into the Holland estate and is having talks with the resident estate board, while appealing to neighbours to let them know if any social property is being unlawfully rented out so it can take action.