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What is Tenancy Fraud?
There are several types of tenancy fraud and below are some of the most common ones:
- obtaining housing by deception - where a person gets a home by giving false information on their housing application
- unlawful subletting - where a tenant rents out their home without the knowledge or permission of the landlord
- wrongly claimed succession - where the resident dies and someone tries to take over or succeed the tenancy when they are not entitled to
- key selling - where a resident is paid to pass on their keys in return for a one-off payment
- unlawful assignment - where a tenant stops using their tenancy as their main or principal home, allowing family members to remain at the property without the permission of the council
- fraudulent mutual exchange - giving false information to get a property
- false Right to Buy - where a tenant resident makes a Right to Buy application and gives false information
Why it's important to tackle tenancy fraud
Council housing is a valuable asset and often a lifeline to the people it's meant for, given the desperate shortage of affordable homes.
We have to make sure that the best use of our homes is made and ensure that the people living in them are legally entitled to be there.
Tenancy fraud can:
- make people wait even longer on the housing list
- extend the time that families have to live in temporary or overcrowded accommodation
- let people profit from subletting a home that could have been for you and your family
What Luton Council does to tackle tenancy fraud?
We take tenancy fraud very seriously and will take action to regain possession of properties and recover any unlawful profits made by residents wherever we find evidence of tenancy fraud.
Our right to do this has been enforced by the government in the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act (PoSHFA) 2013.
The introduction of this act, made tenancy fraud a criminal offence, which in the very worst instances could result in two years in prison and/or a maximum of £50,000 in fines.
Our housing officers carry out regular tenancy audits (home visits) as part of our letting and housing management activities, to make sure that the right people are living in our properties and that they are keeping to the other terms of their tenancy agreement.
We work with the Shared Anti-Fraud Service (SAFS) at Hertfordshire County Council to investigate and take action against those committing tenancy fraud.
In the year 2019 to 2020, a total of 21 properties were recovered and fraudulent Right to Buy applications were stopped due to the work of the housing team and the fraud services.
What you can do to help
Do you know:
- someone in a home who is renting it out without permission?
- someone who got their home by giving false information?
- someone who is living somewhere else (someone else may be living at the property or it may be empty)?
- a council property where you have noticed that people seem to move in and out on a regular basis?
- that an elderly resident has gone into a care home or has passed away, but other family members have moved in?
- if the tenant has gone to live with a new partner and leaving their grown up children at the property?
- If the property has been empty for a long time or do you only see the tenant popping back to collect the post but is not living there?
Any one of the above could be tenancy fraud, using up valuable housing accommodation and depriving families and vulnerable people who are on the waiting list.
Please let us know so that we can investigate and take action. There are many ways you can get in touch with us about tenancy fraud:
- call your housing officer or email your housing officer
- email us at [email protected]
Any information you give us will be treated in the strictest of confidence and your identity will be protected. You can report the suspected fraud anonymously but please give us as much information as possible to help our investigations. The more information that we have the better the chance we have of stopping it.
If you are happy to disclose your contact details then this may help if we need to contact you for more information or to clarify something you have told us.