A woman who claimed housing and council tax benefit while renting a property to tenants has been handed a suspended prison sentence, the council said.
Vera-Brigitte Bilek Von Sternberg, from Lancaster Road, Notting Hill, admitted six charges, under the Fraud Act 2006 and Social Security and Administration Act 1992, after claiming housing and council tax benefit while renting a property in Chelsea, to tenants.
She was given a 10-month sentence, suspended for two years, during an appearance at Isleworth Crown Court on Tuesday (July 7), and told to pay full costs of £5,321.50 within 28 days, Kensington & Chelsea Council said.
An earlier hearing at Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court had heard how Von Sternberg rented a property, Ivy Cottage in Uverdale Road, to tenants and claimed benefits while keeping a bank account secret from the council.
The council said that, on both 17 September 2009 and 13 July 2011, the defendant made a false representation in a housing benefit and council tax benefit application relating to Ivy Cottage when she failed to give details of a Barclays account.
Von Sternberg was similarly charged with making a false representation on February 4 2013, in relation to a claim for benefits on the same property, by telling the council she never had subtenants, only visitors, guests, friends and members of her family.
She also claimed, in a letter to the council in February 2013, that she had no income except Pension Credit and Disability Living Allowance, and also failed to declare that she had multiple subtenants that she charged rent to between September 16 2012 and September 18 2013.
Von Sternberg was paid £18,767 in housing and council tax benefit over this period, though all the money owed has been repaid to the local authority.
The 65-year-old also pleaded guilty to an additional charge that she was dishonest in failing to notify the council that she had a tenancy agreement with Anchor Trust and had moved out of Ivy Cottage into her current address.
Judge Wood noted the defendant’s previous good character, genuine remorse for what she had done and early guilty plea.