A HOUSING fraudster from Kingswinford who sublet his council home has been handed a six-month prison sentence suspended for two years and a bill of more than £7,000.

Dudley Council successfully brought a case against John David Facer, aged 52, of Keepers Close, who was sentenced at Dudley Magistrates Court on Friday January 10.

Mr Facer was found to be subletting his one-bedroom property for three years while he was living in a property that he had bought in Kidderminster.

After selling the home in Kidderminster and making a profit of £58,000, Mr Facer moved back to Keepers Close and submitted a fraudulent Right to Buy application to purchase the property from Dudley Council.

Had his application been successful, this would have entitled Mr Facer to a discount to the value of £36,250.

However, due to further investigations into the sublet of the property the application was cancelled by the council.

Mr Facer pleaded guilty to subletting his council property, under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud.

Before sentencing District Judge Webster warned Mr Facer he was “close to leaving the court in a van” but he proceeded to sentence Mr Facer to six months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered Mr Facer to complete 240 hours of unpaid work.

Mr Facer will also have to pay back an unlawful profit order of £1,955.68, a victim surcharge of £115 and legal costs of £5,000.

Due to Mr Facer being unwilling to relinquish the tenancy voluntarily, the council are in the process of recovering possession of the property, in order that it can be allocated to an eligible applicant who is in need of social housing. The possession case is due to be heard at the end of January 2020.

Councillor Laura Taylor, Dudley's cabinet member for housing, communities and residents' welfare, said: "Mr Facer’s actions will have deprived someone in genuine need of housing and once again we are showing people that falsifying housing applications is a serious offence.

"I would remind anyone who may be considering falsifying a housing application that we will take legal action against people who commit housing fraud."

Anyone suspicious of any fraudulent activity in the borough can report it anonymously via the council’s fraud hotline on 01384 81 4242 or email hotline@dudley.gov.uk.