Published: Friday, 4th January 2019

A tenant found guilty of subletting her three-bedroom council flat in Plumstead has been ordered to pay a £42,000 fine.

Mrs Pfavai McNab, a hair and beauty salon owner from Southampton, received a two year suspended prison sentence at Woolwich Crown Court for illegally subletting her flat for over 10 years.

Known as Pfavai Chidavaenzi when she obtained the property in Barnfield Gardens, Plumstead in1996, she subsequently married and moved to Southampton.

In 2017, under her former name, she submitted an application under the Right to Buy scheme to purchase the property from us, declaring it as her only and principal home, for which she would have received a £103,900 discount off the purchase price.

Right to Buy check

Our officers carry out stringent checks for Right to Buy applications. This check revealed that she had married in April 2000, was living under her married name of McNab and purchased a home in Southampton. Further checks revealed that she had left her daughter occupying the flat since at least 2007 and had also set up her own hair and beauty salon on the south coast.

Mrs McNab was physically shocked when our officers visited her in Southampton and was later interviewed, after which she terminated her tenancy and returned the keys. She was convicted of two charges under the Fraud Act 2006 at Woolwich Crown Court and sentenced to a two year prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered to undertake 100 hours of unpaid work.

Prison threat 

Recorder Forster QC also ordered Mrs McNab to pay the Royal Borough of Greenwich £35,000 within two years relating to the financial loss suffered by us for having to provide emergency accommodation due to the three-bedroom flat not being available for others in genuine need. Mrs McNab was also ordered to pay our legal costs of £6,920 within six months. If she fails to do so, she will go to prison for a year.

Upon sentencing Recorder Forster QC stated that Mrs McNab was not content with rubbing salt in the wounds, by attempting to exercise a statutory right to buy the flat at a huge discount that would have at some time exercised a huge profit. He stated it was gratifying to know that we investigate any suspicions on a right to buy case and that the defendant had failed to gain the windfall of over £100,000.

Home for family in need

Councillor Christine Grice, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, said: "We all know that council accommodation is in short supply and it is encouraging to see that the Royal Borough carries out extensive checks prior to the release of any of its properties.

"Mrs McNab was caught out by her own greed when she applied to buy the council property, and her many years of not residing at the three-bedroom flat were identified. She has evaded prison. However, I hope that the £42,000 she now has to pay the Royal Borough of Greenwich will be a good reminder of her despicable actions. I am pleased to hear that a family in genuine need is now happy to have a home."

If you suspect someone of committing fraud against the council please call 0800 169 6975 or email Any information you give will be treated in confidence.