The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 makes the unauthorised subletting of a council property a criminal offence.
The prosecution can be brought by the council concerned.
Where subletting or parting with possession of the whole of the property is shown to have taken place, the assured tenant will (unless on a shared-ownership lease) lose their security of tenure.
Social landlords will be able to claim any unlawful profit made by the tenant. Once a conviction for unlawful subletting has been secured, an Unlawful Profit Order may be granted to enable recovery of the profits made.
Conviction for the subletting of the property by the tenant in breach of the tenancy agreement carries a fine of not more than £5,000. If the subletting is shown to have been dishonest, the fine and/or imprisonment for up to six months can apply.
Defences against the claim are limited, but can include where the subletting is the result of actual or implied violence against the tenant or their family or where the subletting is to a person who has the right to occupy the property or have the tenancy transferred to them. This latter instance would include family members.