Housing fraudster who lived in shed to be evicted

A Fulham fraudster who lived in a shed while illegally renting his four-bedroom council house will be evicted.

John Gallagher, 65, of Strode Road, was jailed for 10 months at Isleworth Crown Court in August, after admitting five counts of fraud and raking in more than £95,000 in benefits.

At Hammersmith County Court last week, a judge awarded possession of the house back to Hammersmith & Fulham Council, meaning it can now be allocated to a deserving family.

“We will always pursue cases like this to ensure our housing stock is returned to those who genuinely need it,” said Cllr Lisa Homan, H&F Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing.

“Mr Gallagher tried to cheat the system and thanks to great work from our housing and fraud teams, he is now behind bars and a much-needed home can be returned to proper use.”

In August, the court was told Mr Gallagher had been sole occupant at the home for more than twenty years, but came to the interest of H&F’s fraud officers after a tip-off.

During a raid, inspectors found Mr Gallagher had been living in the back garden in a furnished shed, complete with en-suite bathroom and wardrobe, while renting out all four rooms of the home.

He was receiving between £645-£700 per room per month, plus £80-£100 a month towards utilities and deposits of £300-£540 per room. It is illegal to sublet social housing.

He had also been claiming benefits from Hammersmith & Fulham Council and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) over eight years.

His ruse was uncovered when an H&F fraud officer noticed a phone number advertising the rooms for rent was the same as Mr Gallagher had supplied when applying for an H&F parking permit.

A possession order was granted to H&F Council last week and the tenancy will be terminated in due course. The council has applied for a bailiff’s warrant and is awaiting an eviction date.

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