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Councils to investigate tenancy fraud

Kevin Snow25th July 2013

Three Rivers has teamed up with Watford Borough Council and local housing associations to investigate tenancy fraud.

Nationally, tenancy fraud costs the public purse at least £900 million a year, a level three times higher than housing benefit fraud.

Housing tenancy fraud happens when people occupy social housing, such as housing association properties, illegally and can include:

A tenant lives elsewhere and sublets to someone else – usually for a profit.

Rights to Succession are used even though the original tenant no longer lives at the property.

The Right to Buy scheme is exploited, leading to buying a social rented home by a person with no entitlement.

Tenancy fraud means that there is less social housing available for people who are most entitled.

A new post of tenancy fraud investigator has been created by the Housing and Regeneration Initiative (HARI) and funded for 12 months by the Local Government Association. Nicola O’Brien took up the post in June and as well as investigations work her role will include raising public awareness and increasing data sharing with housing associations and other agencies.

Nicola O’Brien said:

"It is imperative that we get the public on board, as they will always be the eyes and ears of the community."

Three Rivers’ Cabinet Member for the Environment, Cllr Martin Trevett, is the Chair of HARI.

Martin Trevett said:

"In these times of increasing demand for social housing it is vitally important that we do all we can to ensure that only those entitled social housing get it.

Not only is tenancy fraud costing law abiding council tax payers a lot of money but it is depriving housing for those in genuine need.

"Anyone with suspicions can contact Nicola in confidence and an investigation can be undertaken."

A new hotline has been set up, so members of the public can give information, anonymously if they prefer to help combat tenancy fraud. The hotline number is 0800 458 9200 or email at tenancyfraud@threerivers.gov.uk