A former family friend in his mid-60s who is entitled to social housing has been advised to get a solicitor because he is going to be prosecuted for subletting his council property.
He has never lived there, but used the place to claim benefits from and to make extra money from subletting.
A few years ago I was in a dire situation and effectively homeless. I had a huge dispute with my parents when I came out as a homosexual and was forced to move out of the family home. This former family friend let me stay at the council property – without charge – initially I intended to stay a very short while until I got on my feet. However, I ended up staying longer than I liked because the former family friend put pressure on me to stay. All their previous sublet tenants had not taken good care of the property and were more likely to attract the wrong kind of attention and thus endanger their precious benefits that they were collecting. They wanted me to continue to stay because I could be trusted to treat the place properly. This caused me a lot of anxiety as I really wanted to move out. Eventually I started having panic attacks – afraid that the council would “get” me or that I would incur the wrath of this person. In the end I got back on my feet, moved out, and cut out all contact with this person and that side of my family.
I am now in a good job. I live in a nice flat with a private landlord that I pay money to out of my own pocket like any other law-abiding hard-working person. I’ve re-connected with my family and we’re closer than ever. Yet I am afraid that I’m going to lose all that because I don’t know if I’m going to be facing prosecution too (and/or a fine) for knowingly staying in a property that I had no right to. I was younger and more naieve back then and don’t want to be punished for something I regret and have learned from.