Published: Friday, 2nd March 2018

A man who lied in order to obtain a council house has been ordered by a Judge to make the repayment in damages to the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

In November 2015, Ademola Lojede, 34, was sentenced to 16 months in prison for failing to declare that he owned his own home when accepting council accommodation, and claiming housing benefit from the Royal Borough.

Mr Lojede applied for housing with the Council, declaring that he lived with his mother and siblings and that he needed his own place due to overcrowding. In January 2009 an offer of accommodation was made to Mr Lojede and he confirmed that his circumstances had not changed and that he had no other accommodation to live in. He was granted the tenancy of a one bedroom flat in Sidcup Road, SE9.

In May 2011 Mr Lojede submitted a housing benefit application to the Royal Borough, declaring that he owned no property in the UK or abroad. Housing Benefit was awarded to assist him paying his rent at the Sidcup Road property.

As a result of the Royal Borough's commitment to ensure that landlords provide safe accommodation to tenants, the Council's private rented sector enforcement team had undertaken a routine visit to a property in Reidhaven Road. Enquiries into the landlord of the property, a Mr Joseph Adebayo, identified that he was also known as Ademola Joseph Lojede and was linked to the tenancy at Sidcup Road. The matter was referred to the Council's Internal Audit and Anti-Fraud team for further investigation.

Enquiries identified that in November 2005 Mr Lojede purchased a two bedroom house in Reidhaven Road and that he had failed to declare this to the Housing team when accepting the keys to the Sidcup Road property in January 2009. He also failed to declare to the Housing Benefit section that he owned this property, going on to receive a total of £19,342.91 in benefit payments during the period May 2011 to June 2015.

Now released from prison, Mr Lojede repaid the Housing Benefit that he had defrauded. However, he refused to repay a total of £69,842.64 in financial losses owed to the Royal Borough of Greenwich incurred as a result of providing emergency accommodation to others due to Mr Lojede having deprived the Council of the use of its one bedroom property.

Mr Lojede continued to contest the amount owed and the matter proceeded to the High Court in London.

Following a two-day hearing at the High Court on 18 January 2018, His Honour Judge Saggerson determined that the Royal Borough of Greenwich was correct to be claiming damages and awarded the full amount of £69,842.64 plus legal costs and interest of £18,114.22. The total amount now to be paid by Mr Lojede is £87,956.86. His Honour Judge Saggerson refused any further appeal on this matter.

'A superb result'

Councillor Maureen O'Mara, Cabinet Member for Customer Services and Anti-Fraud, said: "Mr Lojede's actions caused the Royal Borough to suffer a significant financial loss by having to provide emergency accommodation because he had selfishly deprived the Council of a much needed property.

"I doubt that when he first set out to defraud the Royal Borough he gave thought to the possibility that he would serve a prison sentence and would have to pay almost £88,000 back to the Council. Ironically even the £88,000 now owed would have been considerably lower had he again not been so selfish and stubborn.

"I am pleased to hear that an arrangement will shortly be in place to repay this amount and should he default on this then the Royal Borough will force the sale of his property and recover the debt. This is a superb result for not only the Royal Borough but also for all Local Authorities who may now wish to seek recovery of their losses".