A woman who bought her council home through the Right to Buy scheme has been prosecuted and forced to hand it back after admitting illegally subletting the property.
When she bought her maisonette flat in Spinney Crescent, Dunstable, Jacqueline Gould, 37, falsely claimed she was living there.
Instead, the mother of two was sub-letting the property – illegally sub-letting is a criminal offence.
It was also a criminal offence as it meant she stood to dishonestly gain from the Right to Buy scheme.
That is where council and housing association tenants can buy their homes for significantly discounted rates.
Following an investigation, in November 2015 Gould pleaded guilty to one charge of illegal sub-letting and one charge of fraud. She appeared at Luton Crown Court for sentencing on Friday and was sentenced to ten months’ imprisonment, suspended for a year.
She was also ordered to pay full prosecution costs of £2,531.69 while the Spinney Crescent property has now been transferred back to the council.
In his sentencing remarks the presiding judge said that he considered the offences to be very serious.
He said that Gould is an intelligible woman who must have known she was not entitled to sub-let her council property.
He added that this is a scheme intended to enable people to buy their homes to live in rather than operate some kind of market buy-to-let arrangement.
Councillor Richard Wenham, Executive Member for Corporate Resources, said: “Council housing is an incredibly valuable resource and there for people who need it, not to be abused in order to make a quick profit.
“It is a criminal offence to illegally sub-let your council house, as it is to provide false information for a Right to Buy discount.”