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Social housing cheat to pay back £35,000

28 November, 2016

A bpha tenant has been ordered to pay back almost £35,000 after being prosecuted for lying to obtain low cost social housing.

Omid Hashemi, of Alamein Avenue, Bedford, has also been sentenced to a 12 month prison sentence, suspended for 2 years after claiming that he, his wife and his younger brother were living in overcrowded conditions.

However, after a referral by bpha to Bedford Borough Council, it was revealed that Mr Hashemi owned a three bed house, purchased just three months before applying for housing, which he rented out for profit.

In February this year, Mr Hashemi, was prosecuted at Luton Crown Court where he pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud by false representation and was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years.

Following the conviction an application was made to seize Mr Hashemi’s assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The Court heard evidence that Mr Hashemi benefited from his crime and ordered him to pay almost £35,000, which represented all of his available assets. The amount must be paid within three months or Mr Hashemi will face nine months in prison.

George Parkinson, Head of Housing Management at bpha, said: “Tenancy fraud is a crime and takes away housing from those people who need it the most.

“We are pleased with the outcome of this case and will continue to work closely with Bedford Borough Council and other partners to ensure that suspicions are fully investigated.”

If you suspect that someone may have lied on their application for housing, may have abandoned their property, or may be subletting their home please report any suspicions to bpha in confidence on 0330 100 0272 or email

New lease of life for former bpha HQ

19 September, 2016

An office building in the heart of Bedford town centre has been given a new lease of life after being transformed into fresh, modern living-spaces by bpha.

Pilgrims House in Horne Lane was built in 1991 as the former head office of bpha but following a move to new premises in Manton Lane in 2014 a decision was taken to convert the building into new homes.

On Friday, 16 September, it officially became a block of 23 newly converted one and two-bedroom flats and was reopened by the Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson.

In line with some of the key themes of this year’s housing week, the project demonstrates how bpha is encouraging people to look to Housing Associations for better quality, more sustainable housing options, whilst empowering them to ‘own their future’ by considering options such as shared ownership to secure a home and set themselves up for the long-term.

Sarah Ireland, Director of Development and Sales at bpha, said: “Over the last 25 years we’ve built more than 10,000 new homes in this region, so it’s fitting that what was our original home has been converted into affordable housing to meet the needs of 23 households in the centre of Bedford.

“All the new owners are first-time buyers and 14 are from Bedford itself. Without the shared ownership scheme none of them would have been able to get onto the first rung of the housing ladder.”

[l to r] The Mayor of Bedford Dave Hodgson, Michelle Marotta, Rhiana Duckett, and Bedford MP Richard Fuller

Rhiana Duckett, 24, a Marketing Executive from Luton will be one of the first residents to move into Pilgrims House. She said: “I’m so excited to finally own and be moving into my first home. I’ve always dreamed of owning my own place but I was worried about being able to afford to pay a mortgage. Thanks to the shared ownership scheme I’ve been able to buy 60% of my flat now with the aim of buying more shares and eventually owning 100%. bpha have made the journey really easy and stress free too.”

Joining Rhiana in one of the other properties will be Michelle Marotta, 28, a HR Administrator from Marston Mortaine (pictured above right with Rhiana), she said: “I had been saving and saving to try and afford a deposit on a flat but rising house prices were holding me back. Now, thanks to shared ownership I’ve got my own home and affordable monthly outgoings. Plus, I get a beautiful, new flat that no one else has ever lived in!”


The stunning refurbished Pilgrims House

Dave Hodgson, Mayor of Bedford Borough, said: “This project is just one part of a wider regeneration project for the centre of Bedford as next year we will see the completion of the Riverside North project development which will bring new retail and leisure facilities to the town, and additional housing.

“Like many areas in the south east, Bedford faces a shortage in affordable housing and, in this town alone, it is estimated that we need another 5,000 new homes by 2031; another reason why schemes like this are so important.”