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Right to Buy fraud investigation results in Community Order

A successful prosecution has been brought against a fraudulent Right to Buy applicant following investigation into an attempt to purchase a home in Rowhedge, Colchester. 

At Ipswich Crown Court on 1 December, Mr David Cobbold, was sentenced to a two year Community Order and ordered to pay Court Costs of £2,400 after fraudulently applying to Colchester Borough Homes (CBH) to buy the property in his mother's name. 

In July 2015, the applicant's mother, Mrs Cobbold had begun an application to buy the three-bedroom semi-detached house where she had lived for 35 years. Her son applied with her, but was declined as he did not live at the property. 

Mrs Cobbold's application was approved, but sadly she died the following month in August 2015, before it could be completed. However, the application continued. The Court heard a recorded phone conversation from September 2015, in which Mr Cobbold chased the application and failed, as her next of kin, to notify CBH of Mrs Cobbold's death. 

A full investigation was launched when there were inconsistencies in the documentation received. CBH reported the case to Essex Police, who submitted it to the Crown Prosecution Service. 

Anne Grahamslaw, Chair of Colchester Borough Homes' Board, said, "With limited housing stock available across the country, it is essential that we make the best use of council-owned properties. Fraudulent use of any property takes away a home that could be used to house a family in need, and is a criminal offence that we take extremely seriously. " 

Right to Buy is a national scheme which enables long-standing tenants of councils and social landlords to buy their home at a discounted price. Secure tenants may have the Right to Buy if they have spent at least three years in a public sector tenancy. CBH asks for evidence from any family members wishing to be a joint tenant that the address has been their main residence for at least 12 months prior to applying.