Published: Monday, 20th November 2017

Marco Travez was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment and ordered to pay the Royal Borough of Greenwich his rental profit.

Mr Travez, 33, was ordered to pay £11,722.22 for having sublet a one-bedroom Council property allocated to him at Middle Park Avenue, Eltham, SE9. He obtained the one-bedroom property from the Royal Borough in April 2012 following overcrowding at his family home.

In August 2016 the Royal Borough received a Housing Benefit application from the occupier of the Middle Park Avenue property however it was not in the name of Mr Travez. The Housing Benefit applicant stated he had been living at the property for over four years and that his landlord was Mr Travez.

Mr Travez had received monthly payments from his tenant directly into his bank account and that he was making a rental profit of over £200 each month from the arrangement. Royal Borough anti-fraud investigators found that between June 2012 and July 2016 Mr Travez had received rental payments from his tenant' totalling in excess of £31,000 which gave him a clear profit of £11,722.22 once his rental payments to the Council had been deducted.

In December 2016 investigators interviewed Mr Travez under caution and put the evidence of his subletting to him. He said that investigators were getting confused with his previous his work as a part-time residential letting agent and that he did rent properties but not the one allocated to him by the Council.

Mr Travez denied that he had been subletting the Council property however when shown the evidence of rental payments into his bank account from his 'tenant' he refused to answer any further questions.

Within five days of the interview Mr Travez returned the keys to the Middle Park Avenue property saying that he had returned to live with his parents.

Mr Travez was summonsed to appear at Bexley Magistrates Court in September 2017 to answer one charge under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 and one charge under the Fraud Act 2006. Mr Travez indicated he did not wish to enter a plea.

In October 2017 Mr Travez attended Woolwich Crown Court for a pre-trial hearing and pleaded guilty to both charges.

On 14 November 2017 Mr Travez appeared before Her Honour Judge Downing at Woolwich Crown Court and repeated his guilty plea. He was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to undertake 150 hours of unpaid work in the community.

He was also ordered to pay the Royal Borough of Greenwich the full profit of £11,722.22 that he had made from the subletting of the Council property and to pay the Councils legal costs of £1,419.97.

Upon sentencing Her Honour Judge Downing made it clear to Mr Travez that she could have sent him to prison however she hoped this would be his first and last brush with the law.

'He has gained nothing from it'

Councillor Maureen O'Mara, Cabinet Member for Customer Services, said: "Mr Travez was caught out by his own greed and now has to repay the Royal Borough all of the profit he made from his disgraceful actions. Not only that but he also has been ordered to pay all the legal costs for bringing this action against him.

"Other than a criminal record, I am pleased to hear he has gained nothing from it. I am also happy to learn that the property in Middle Park Avenue has now been allocated to a person in genuine need who is grateful to have a home."