Philip Scalora claims the man moved into his flat in west London with the help of a member of staff at housing association Clarion. The 41-year-old said that when the borders reopened and he returned home, he could not “kick out” the stranger.
Philip says the man received more than £8,000 in utility bills in his name, reports MyLondon.
“It is very difficult for me. A stranger was in my apartment collecting bills and sleeping in my bed. In the meantime, I remained homeless, spending a fortune on hotels,” said Philip.
Philip left his flat in Chelsea in December 2019 to travel but was unable to return to London after being stuck in Australia with his parents as the coronavirus swept the world.
Pleased that he was guaranteed a lifetime lease on the apartment due to his health condition, Philip contacted Clarion to inform them of his situation.
He said the Clarion employee who managed his apartment asked him to send the keys back so she could gain access for inspection.
She soon informed him that someone else would be living in his apartment while he was gone, but insisted that he would be given a new apartment when he returned.
He asked a friend to carry most of his belongings, assuming that he would not be left out in the cold when he returned.
“At first I wasn’t too worried. I told her I would be back and she reassured me that I would be moved to a vacant property.
“It wasn’t until travel resumed and I started making plans to return that I found out what was going on,” Philip said.
The moment of realization came when Philip talked to another Clarion employee about his new apartment in November 2020.
He said he was told they had no record of anyone moving into his flat and that there were £8,000 of unpaid utility bills in his name.
“I soon found out that a Clarion worker was collecting money by renting out my apartment privately,” Philip said.
Clarion has launched an investigation into rental property fraud.
A spokesman said: “Clarion does not tolerate rental fraud and this matter is currently under criminal investigation.
“In order not to prejudice this investigation, we cannot comment on the details.
“We can confirm that there are three persons involved in this investigation.
“We also have a firm policy of investigating any employee accused of fraud and this is now being accepted.”
So far, the stranger is still living in his apartment, and Philip is billing hotels.
“I lived in Kensington and Chelsea for a long time but I had to leave because I can’t afford to stay in hotels in the area.
“It’s a real shame. I just want my back to be flat and this nightmare to end,” he said.