The trouble with Tenancy Fraud

The trouble with Tenancy Fraud
6th June 2018 Amanda Bhavnani
Mark Garnham

We’ve launched a campaign to expose any residents who are committing Tenancy Fraud and are not legally entitled to live in their property.

Tenancy Fraud includes sub-letting, taking over someone’s tenancy when you’re not entitled to and lying in order to rent a social housing property. It’s a criminal offence, with the consequences including eviction, and a possible fine of up to £5,000 or imprisonment.

Throughout June, residents who confidentially report known cases of fraud to us which ultimately leads to us gaining back a property will receive a £100 voucher. In addition, a key amnesty is giving residents the opportunity to hand their keys to their Neighbourhood Co-ordinator without facing court action.

Here, Neighbourhood Co-ordinator, Mark Garnham, explains the impact of Tenancy Fraud both for Greenfields and our residents:

“Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting a very happy lady who had moved into a lovely bungalow.

The only reason we were in a position to let that bungalow was because we had regained possession of it from a person who had obtained it by deception.

In this case, we’d been informed by the local authority that they had discovered she was already a homeowner prior to being let a social home.

When they signed their tenancy declaration, they declared they knew they could be prosecuted if false information was given or if relevant information was withheld. This is called Tenancy Fraud and we are always on the look-out for it!

We began an investigation, and the individual handed back their keys. Had we not investigated, the lady I mentioned earlier may still be waiting patiently on the Housing Register.

Tenancy Fraud is a situation where a tenant has breached certain terms of their tenancy agreement. It generally falls into three categories:

1)      Not using the property as the ‘Sole or Principal home’ and includes Property abandonment and unlawfully sub-letting the entire property.

2)      Attempting to obtain a property using false statements

3)      Attempting to obtain a property by false documents

It’s important that Greenfields takes effective measures against Tenancy Fraud in order to provide residents with an effective service.  Such fraud jeopardises our ability to respond effectively to cases of anti-social behaviour and repair issues. The misuse of our homes is not only a waste of an important resource; it prevents us from offering suitable accommodation to those most in need.

To tackle tenancy fraud, we have ensured that we know who is living in our properties by obtaining photo identification proofs for each resident during our Tenancy Visits or tenancy sign-ups.

Between 1st January 2017 and April 2018, Greenfields investigated and resolved 13 cases of suspected non-occupation, 9 cases of property abandonment, 4 cases of suspected sub-letting of a property and 1 case of obtaining a property by making false statements.

Often the first time a tenancy fraud case is brought to our attention is when we receive reports from members of the public. It’s really important that if you suspect one of our homes is not being used properly, that you let us know.

Tell your local Neighbourhood Co-ordinator or use our anonymous contact methods – email concerned@greenfieldsch.org.uk or call 01376 535417. Information provided that leads us to gaining back a property will lead to a £100 shopping voucher.

Together, let’s help ensure that our homes are used to provide households and families with a secure home.”