Published: Friday, 3rd February 2017

A man was prosecuted for tenancy fraud and ordered to pay back more than £29,000.

A 40 year old petrol garage franchisee from Scunthorpe has been prosecuted by the Royal Borough of Greenwich and ordered to pay back more than £29,000 to the Council.

Claimed he was living in overcrowded accommodation

Mr Kandappillai Jenopan was housed by Royal Greenwich in May 2009 at a flat in Dabin Crescent, Greenwich SE10, having declared that he was living in overcrowded accommodation with his family.

Whilst investigating a separate tenancy issue involving a family member, officers from the Royal Borough's Internal Audit & Anti-Fraud team noticed that Mr Jenopan had immediately terminated his tenancy at Dabin Crescent advising the Council that he had moved to Doncaster. With concerns regarding the subletting of a council property by a relative, further investigations followed.

Failed to declare he owned four properties

Royal Borough investigators discovered that Mr Jenopan was the owner and landlord of four residential properties in Scunthorpe at the time he obtained the one bedroom tenancy at Dabin Crescent and that he failed to declare his ownership of these properties. Further checks with the North Lincolnshire Council confirmed that Mr Jenopan had been living in the Scunthorpe area for many years and that his declaration that he was living in overcrowded accommodation in the Woolwich area with family was false.

When interviewed, he stated that he had always resided in the London area and that he couldn't have lived in the properties he owned in Scunthorpe as he rented them out. Mr Jenopan's story was not accepted as the evidence proved otherwise.

Given a suspended prison sentence and community work

He was charged with two offences under the Fraud Act and was summonsed to appear at Bexley Magistrates Court on 14 November 2016 where he pleaded guilty to both offences. The matter was put forward to the Crown Court for sentencing.

On 20 December 2016, he attended Woolwich Crown Court before His Honour Judge Katz QC who accepted that Mr Jenopan had made an early guilty plea in the criminal proceedings and commented that Mr Jenopan appeared deeply remorseful for his actions. Mr Jenopan was given a 20 month prison sentence, suspended for two years and was ordered to undertake 120 hours of unpaid work in the community.

Ordered to repay more than £30,000

Mr Jenopan's fraudulent actions caused a financial loss to the Royal Borough of £29,106.31 as a result of him depriving the council of the use of the property at Dabin Crescent and for providing emergency accommodation to others in genuine need. His Honour Judge Katz QC ordered Mr Jenopan to pay the Royal Borough of Greenwich the full £29,106.31 and that he had to pay £10,000 by 28 December 2016. He was also ordered to repay prosecution costs of £1026.12 within two years. Since the court hearing the £10,000 has since been repaid.

'Tenancy fraud is a serious matter'

Councillor Maureen O'Mara, Cabinet Member for Customer Services, said: "Royal Borough investigators now have far greater powers to investigate tenancy fraud and to get properties back for those in genuine need of accommodation. This case shows that if you think that handing back the property will spare you from prosecution, then you should think again. Tenancy fraud is a serious matter; we will prosecute you and pursue you for our financial losses. Mr Jenopan now has a criminal record for fraud and has to repay over £30,000 to the Royal Borough."