A council tenant has been ordered to pay Barnet Council almost £130,000 after illegally subletting his council home for 16 years.

David Lawal, 56, of Clifton Gardens, Uxbridge, appeared at Harrow Crown Court on 12 May 2016 where he was handed a 14-month suspended sentence, ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work, pay a compensation order of £127,000, pay costs of over £20,000 and a victim surcharge of £100.

Lawal had pleaded guilty to five charges of obtaining services by deception and sub-letting a property following an investigation by the council’s Corporate Anti-Fraud Team (CAFT).

The court heard how Lawal and his family had presented themselves as homeless to the council in 1994 and were offered a two bedroom property in Kingsbury Road, Colindale.

But as the investigation later revealed, Lawal failed to declare that he in fact owned two homes in Plymouth, one of which he jointly owned with his wife.

The investigation was sparked after Lawal telephoned the council in January 2014 to ask about a tenancy fraud amnesty which had been running for one month in November 2013. The fraud officer who took the call was suspicious of Lawal and conducted some background checks which triggered the investigation.

Investigators were able to establish that in1998 Lawal had purchased a third property, this time in Uxbridge.

Records showed the family then moved into this house.

Lawal did not give up his tenancy on the council house in Kingsbury Road and instead sublet it to various tenants over the years until finally handing back the keys in October 2014 following the CAFT investigation and after the amnesty had closed in November 2013.

In 2005 Lawal even contacted the council to say the council property in Colindale was too small for him and his family and requested a larger property.

When investigators called at the Colindale house they found subtenants living in the property and that the lounge had been partitioned to provide further accommodation.

The £127,000 compensation order was calculated on the basis of how much it would have cost the council to house a family of four in temporary accommodation over the period the illegal subletting took place.

He now has six months in which to pay the money to the council.

Councillor Richard Cornelius, Leader of Barnet Council, said: “Council homes are there for those in genuine need so it’s totally unacceptable for someone to abuse the system in such a brazen fashion as this, and over such a long period of time.

“Not only was this council house sublet but its tenant was the owner of three properties.

“This case, and the size of the compensation order which must be paid, sends out a very clear message to anyone who might be contemplating something similar.”

To report a fraud visit the council website or call the council’s fraud hotline on 020 8359 2007.

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