Social Housing (Tenancy) Fraud is the illegal or improper use of a social housing property.
This would normally be a property that is owned by a registered social landlord such as Circle Housing Mole Valley. Tenancy fraud, including subletting, is a criminal offence that carries a potential jail term.
Social Housing is a valuable asset which must be protected to provide homes for those with genuine need. We are aware that some families and individuals in need of housing are currently being denied due to incidents of tenancy fraud within Mole Valley and we will not tolerate it. Information, which can be given anonymously, can lead us to recovering properties and give honest families, currently in temporary accommodation, a home.
Tackling this sort of fraud saves valuable resources and gives families better lives. Social Housing should only be used to help those who need it most, not misused by fraudsters making money at all of our expense.
What is tenancy fraud?
There are many different kinds of tenancy fraud. Here are the most common types we come across:
- Unlawful subletting - when a resident lets out their home without the landlords knowledge or permission, they are unlawfully sub-letting. Often, they'll continue to pay their rent to the landlord, but charge their 'tenant' a higher rate. It is illegal to sublet and profit from a property that could be given to someone who is legally entitled to it, and who is in need.
- Not using their home as their principal home - sometimes tenants will move out to live elsewhere, for example with a new partner, and either leave the property empty, or allow friends or relatives to continue living there.
- Obtaining housing by deception - this type of tenancy fraud relates to people who obtain a Social Housing property by lying on their application. For example, they might not tell us that they own or are renting another property, or provide false information about the people with whom they live, or mislead us about their local connection to the district.
- False homelessness - pretending to be homeless or vulnerable in order to obtain housing, for example getting parents to lie about evicting them from family home, or providing false ID information, or claiming to be responsible for children that live with someone else.
- Wrongly claimed succession - when a tenant dies, there are certain rules about what should happen with their tenancy. When someone who, under these rules, is not entitled to the property tries to take over the tenancy, they are committing tenancy fraud. For example, they might claim they lived with the resident before they passed away, when they actually lived elsewhere.
- Swapping homes - simply, this is when two or more residents swap homes without the knowledge and permission of the landlord.
What to do if you suspect tenancy fraud
Or contact the Fraud and Investigation Team on the MVDC Fraud Hotline 01306 879284 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Cost of tenancy fraud
The Audit Commission has estimated that the cost to the local taxpayer for misused property is equivalent to the cost to the council of temporary housing a homeless person. This is estimated as up to £18,000 per year.
In Mole Valley, five such properties that were fraudulently occupied have been recovered in 2015 and are now in use by those who had previously been waiting for a permanent home, giving those families a better life and saving taxpayers an estimated £90,000.