Croydon Council tenants illegally subletting their homes are set to be offered the chance to ‘think again and do the right thing’ during a month-long amnesty.

Under proposals to be discussed by councillors on Monday, anyone committing this tenancy fraud will be allowed to hand back their keys anonymously next month.

The council promises no action will be taken against anyone who does this during the amnesty.

This is part of a drive by the council to let people know illegal subletting is now a criminal offence, under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 which came into effect last October.

Under the terms of the act, social housing tenants illegally subletting their homes could be jailed for up to two years.

Cabinet member for housing Councillor Dudley Mead said: “With a shortage of housing for those in greatest need of it, fraudsters who illegally sublet their homes are depriving struggling families of the right to a suitable home.

“This is a criminal offence, and while this amnesty is a chance for those who are breaking the law to think again and do the right thing, we will be coming down strongly on those that ignore it and think they can get away with it.

“It’s only a matter of time before we catch up with you. The warning is loud and clear – hand back the keys or you could face a prison sentence.”

A council spokesman says tenancy fraud costs the taxpayer £90,000 per property when taking into account the potential housing benefit fraud and the cost of keeping other households in temporary accommodation.

The council’s cabinet will consider the proposal on Monday.

To report any suspected illegal subletting call the anti-fraud hotline on 08003 289270.