Tackling tenancy fraud
One of our main aims is to ensure our housing stock is let to those in housing need and to make the best use of our stock. Social housing is a valuable asset to the public and often a lifeline to the people it’s meant for, given the shortage of affordable homes.
It has been estimated that across the UK, between 50,000 and 160,000 housing association and council homes are occupied by someone who shouldn’t live there or have obtained the tenancy fraudulently. This can cost the tax payer billions of pounds every year.
If you suspect tenancy fraud you can report it by filling in our online form - click or tap here to report tenancy fraud
What is tenancy fraud?
Tenancy fraud can present itself in a number of different ways, here are some of the most common types:
- Abandonment – where the tenant abandons their home and has not notified us of their intentions of not returning to the property. The tenant may be claiming housing benefit and their rent is being paid.
- Unlawful subletting – where a tenant rents out their home without the knowledge or permission of the landlord. It is against the terms of our tenancy conditions to sublet your home.
- Wrongly claimed succession – where the tenant dies and someone tries to take over or succeed the tenancy when they are not entitled to.
- False Right Buy / Right To Acquire – where a tenant makes a Right to Buy or Right to Acquire application and gives false information in their application.
- Key selling – where a resident is paid to pass on their keys in return for a one-off payment.
- Obtaining housing by deception – where a tenancy is granted and the tenant has given false information on their housing application.
What do we do to prevent tenancy fraud?
Housing applications for new tenants are rigorously checked to ensure the information provided is accurate.
We carry out regular home visits to all new tenants and regularly check the identity of existing tenants to make sure that the people living at the property are the lawful tenants.
We report any concerns of tenancy fraud to Housing Benefit where our tenant is claiming Housing Benefit.
We are members of the National Fraud Initiative and National Anti-Fraud Network. This means we provide information on our residents to the Cabinet Office, who will verify it against information held by local authorities, the Government and the NHS. This is to help detect and prevent fraud against organisations that use public money.
What are the impacts of tenancy fraud?
Tenancy fraud has an impact on all of us. It limits the number of affordable homes that are available for people who really need them. It can also lead to an increase in anti-social behaviour in neighbourhoods where homes are not occupied and sublet as this can result in neighbourhoods that are not as safe as they could be.
When properties are not occupied or sub-let, there is an increased risk of damage to our properties and we can also lose out on rental income. This means we have to spend more money on repairing homes and less money on investing in our current homes, new homes and community projects.
What can you do to help?
Your help in reporting tenancy fraud is important as you are likely to notice any unusual activity in your neighbourhood. Anything you tell us will be treated in the strictest confidence and reports can be made anonymously if you prefer. We welcome reports of the following:
- A Merlin tenant is living elsewhere and not using their home
- You are suspicious a property is sub-let as you have seen someone collect rent from the resident
- You are suspicious because the tenants of a property keep changing
- You are suspicious as there are far too many occupants for the property
- You might know that someone has another home that we don’t know about or has given false information in their housing application
- You might know that the tenant is not living at the property and only popping back to collect post
What we will do
We will investigate all reports and take necessary action. If someone is found to have committed tenancy fraud, that person could lose their tenancy.
We will treat the information you provide us with the strictest confidence. Unfortunately we are not able to able to update you with our progress because we must keep our investigations confidential. However if you feel that there is further information that we would find useful then please do not hesitate to contact us again.
Please complete the below online form or contact our offices on 0300 123 2222 to make a report of tenancy fraud to our Customer Services team. The information you provide will be kept in the strictest confidence.