In a first for Cornwall, a woman has been convicted of tenancy fraud for illegally moving out of and then subletting a council house.

Wendy Snowdon (42) formerly of Kinsman Estate, Bodmin pleaded guilty at Truro Magistrates Court on Wednesday 10 December 2014 to one count of tenancy fraud.

In a prosecution led by Cornwall Council on behalf of Cornwall Housing Ltd, Miss Snowden admitted that she moved out of the property and sublet it without the landlord’s (Cornwall Housing Limited) consent in breach of an express term of the tenancy, knowing that such conduct amounted to a breach of a term of the tenancy.

The action was taken under new 'Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act legislation'.

Miss Snowdon was given 12 month conditional discharge and was ordered to pay Cornwall Council’s full investigation and legal costs of £1,322.90 and a £15 victim surcharge.

Cornwall Council’s corporate fraud team and Cornwall Housing Ltd have been working in partnership since August 2014 to tackle tenancy fraud and have recently announced that there will be key amnesty in January and February 2015 to give those who are abusing the system the opportunity to come clean and avoid possible prosecution.

Joyce Duffin, Cornwall Council cabinet member for housing and environment, said: “It costs on average £18,000 a year to house a family in temporary accommodation. There is huge pressure on the supply of social housing making it imperative that the housing we do have available goes to people in genuine need of help. It’s totally wrong for people not to be living in housing intended for them and to be potentially illegally profiting from it at the same time.”

Jane Barlow, Managing Director of Cornwall Housing said: “Cornwall Housing has been working in partnership with Cornwall Council’s experienced Corporate Fraud Team and three homes have already been identified that we believe have been illegally sub-let.

"This prosecution shows that this type of activity will not be tolerated by Cornwall Housing Ltd.

"We have announced that we will be running a key amnesty in January and February 2015 as we have seen evidence of how introducing a key amnesty has worked well in other parts of the country. By bringing the issue to the public’s attention, other authorities saw an increase in referrals to its tenancy fraud hotline and we hope to see the same results here as we know that the overwhelming majority of residents live in their homes legally and that they share our commitment to tackling tenancy fraud.

"I would also encourage anyone who suspects someone of committing tenancy fraud to get in touch.”

Anyone who is illegally subletting or is not living in their council home should hand back their keys to the Council’s Corporate Fraud Team, local housing officer or housing office.

Residents wishing to report somebody who may be illegally subletting or is not living in their home can do so in complete confidence by calling the Council’s dedicated fraud hotline on 0800 7316125 or emailing Further information on