A man has been found guilty of fraud after he tried to get on the council’s housing register for his own financial gain.
Asif Iqbal, of Bader Gardens, Slough, was charged with two offences under the Fraud Act 2006 of dishonestly making false representations on application forms that he submitted to the council in order to be included on the housing register, intending to mislead the council and make a gain for himself or cause a loss to the council.
The case was heard at Reading Magistrates’ Court on 12 July where Mr Iqbal was found guilty on two offences of fraud.
In December 2019 and January 2020, respectively, Mr Iqbal, 39, submitted two housing applications on which he failed to mention he had previously held a tenancy for a property in Purfleet, Essex, between August 2018 and December 2018.
In order to qualify for inclusion on the housing register, a person must have been continuously resident within the Slough borough for at least five years immediately preceding their application.
When he was challenged by a member of the housing allocations team, Mr Iqbal claimed he had been using the Purfleet address as a correspondence address only, because he had been hoping to obtain employment in that area and eventually move there. He claimed his friend lived at the address, while he continued to live in Slough.
The subsequent investigation showed that not only was Mr Iqbal the tenant who paid the rent, but he was also paying all the bills, including council tax, water and electric. He had also insured a vehicle at the address during the period of the tenancy.
Mr Iqbal had taken a job in Leyton in May 2018, after which he had agreed to rent the Purfleet flat. He admitted he had taken the tenancy and was paying all the associated bills but maintained that his best friend was actually living there instead, while he continued to rent a room in Slough and commute to his job in Leyton. He claimed that although he paid all the bills, his friend repaid him all the expenses in cash.
Further enquiries were made in an attempt to corroborate Mr Iqbal’s story, but this failed and he was convicted on 12 July on both counts by a District Judge following a trial at Reading Magistrates’ Court.
On finding Mr Iqbal guilty, the Judge stated that in her opinion, the matter should never have gone to trial, but did give Mr Iqbal credit for being of previous good character.
She made reference to the housing crisis and the difficulties councils face juggling finances to meet the needs of residents.
Mr Iqbal was sentenced to a 12-month Community Order of 180 hours unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay the prosecution costs in full of £5,532.84, along with a £95 victim surcharge.
Councillor Pavitar K Mann, lead member for housing and planning, said: “We have a high demand on our housing service with people in genuine need, and fraudsters who seek to exploit that do very real harm to our residents who do need a secure home. It delays the process for everyone else and causes real hardship.
“I’m glad he was convicted and will be punished and hope it will deter anyone else from falsely applying. We will never apologise for taking action against those who seek to make fraudulent claims and prioritising our residents in real need.”