Greenwich Council has had to apologise after sending out thousands of letters accusing people of illegally renting out their homes.

Residents across the borough received letters informing them that their home had been identified as a home of multiple occupancy (HMO).

The letters told the homeowner that if they didn’t apply for a license, which costs £377 per unit, they could be fined up to £30,000.

The problem: Many of the people who received these letters have never rented out their homes ever.

Suzanne was one of the people who received the letter, despite owning her home since 2005 and never once letting out a room.

She said: “Obviously I was very concerned and worried as to how they are saying this and wondering all weekend if this was something malicious.

“I called the switchboard number only to be told I won’t be able to get through as they are inundated with calls.

“I think that it outrageous that they have done that. Their letter says the property has been identified as being let and not that they were investigating whether it was.”

6,000 letters were sent out to people across the borough and many people went online to express their concern, not sure whether it was a scam, a mistake, or should they be genuinely worried.

Shamyla Qureshi wrote on Facebook: “Our neighbour got one and he's really worried. They are an elderly couple and they've been pretty stressed since they received it.”

Jamie Carswell, Director of Housing and Safer Communities, said: “As part of our current campaign to drive up housing standards in the private rented sector, we are encouraging private landlords with two or more households in the property and three or more people to register their property as a HMO.

“As part of the campaign, the Council recently wrote to a number of home owners advising them that their property had been identified as an HMO.

“Unfortunately, the addresses were identified using a number of data sources, which has subsequently been identified as incorrect, leading to a number of private homes being incorrectly sent the letter asking them to register their property.

“We are in the process of urgently contacting all those who received the letter in error to reassure them that they do not need to register, and give our deepest apologies for the error.”