Six councils and nine social housing providers are working together to run Regional Tenancy Fraud Awareness Week 2023, from 9 to 13 October. And they are urging anyone who suspects a case of tenancy fraud to report it, in confidence, so further checks can be made.
Members of the forum work year-round to tackle suspected social housing fraud. Collectively, in 2022-23 they recovered 69 properties which were the subject of suspected fraudulent activity. The homes were then used to house people in genuine need of a home.
Amy Hodgson, chair of the regional North East Tenancy Fraud Forum, said: “The National Tenancy Fraud Forum calculate that the average cost to the taxpayer per detected tenancy fraud in the UK is £42,000 per property.
This means that during the financial year 2022 to 2023, with the help of our residents, our fraud teams have been able to save the region £2.9mn (based on the national average).
A further 144 Right to Buy and Right to Acquire sales have been stopped through enhanced verification and anti-money laundering checks, saving the region an additional £5.4mn in discounts.”
Tenancy fraud occurs when a council or social housing home is not occupied by the named tenant or is sublet, when a home has been obtained by deception, or when succession has been wrongly claimed following the death of the lawful tenant.
Alan Smith, Chief Executive of believe housing, said: “Working closely with Durham County Council, and other partners, we are committed to tackling tenancy fraud.
Tenancy fraud can cause longer waiting times for those who are in genuine need of housing and make it more difficult for us to manage our homes and respond to issues such as antisocial behaviour.
If anyone suspects a case of tenancy fraud or knows of a social housing property which has been empty for some time, we encourage them to report it.
There may be a genuine explanation, but abandonment is one of the most common types of tenancy fraud and reporting it could help us to recover a home for a person or family in need.”
Anyone who suspects any type of tenancy fraud is urged to report it, in complete confidence, by contacting their local council’s fraud team or the housing association which manages the property. Contact details are available on their websites and social media.
If you are unsure who to contact, you can contact Durham County Council by calling 03000 266 745, texting 07797 870 192 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
In common with many other parts of the country, the North East has a shortage of social housing and high numbers of people waiting for more suitable accommodation.
The members of the North East Tenancy Fraud Forum are working hard to provide more affordable housing, and to make sure that only the people entitled to housing are given council or social housing tenancies.
James Mackie, vice chair of the North East Tenancy Fraud Forum, said: “Tenancy fraud is not a victimless crime and those that commit fraud and lie to gain access to our social housing do so at the expense of those in very real and genuine need.
We take housing fraud very seriously and we will fully investigate every report of illegal subletting and tenancies obtained by deception.
It is completely unfair that residents in desperate need of housing cannot have a home because of others abusing the system.
If you are aware of someone trying to improve their position on the housing application list register by giving false information, or you are made aware of a property being misused, it is really important that you please let us know about it.”
The North East Tenancy Fraud Forum membership includes registered social landlords and local authorities from across the North East: Northumberland, Gateshead, Newcastle, Durham, South Tyneside and North Tyneside councils, believe housing, Johnnie Johnson, Home Group, North Star, Livin Housing, Gentoo Group, Karbon Homes, The Guinness Partnership and Your Homes Newcastle.