Council cracks down on tenancy fraud

14 Nov 2017

Northumberland County Council is leading the way in tenancy fraud awareness in the region, following the establishment of the North East Tenancy Fraud Forum (NE-TFF) earlier this year.

Set up by the Corporate Fraud Team, the forum membership includes registered social landlords and local authorities from across the North East.

To raise awareness of tenancy fraud, the NE-TFF is campaigning across the region from 12 to 18 November as part of International Fraud Awareness Week, and will cover areas including abandonment, subletting and misrepresentation.

It is estimated that tenancy fraud costs the country more than £50m a year, leaving families who are in desperate need of secure and affordable housing, in temporary accommodation.

Registered social landlords are working with local authorities in the region to fight various types of tenancy fraud. The County Council’s Corporate Fraud Team are encouraging residents to report any suspected fraudulent behaviour during International Fraud Awareness Week, and will further investigate any reports made.

The awareness week will focus around four key themes, which include:
  • Abandonment of properties by tenants which can lead to squatting and vandalism of properties. The County Council’s Corporate Fraud Team have been working alongside Housing Officers since April 2014, and have successfully recovered 18 properties from abandonment, which are now being used as social housing homes.
  • False applications for social properties, including false homeless applications. 
  • Right to Buy fraud, which includes providing false information on Right to Buy or Right to Acquire applications, and buying a property through a third party. In the past 12 months Northumberland County Council has withdrawn 30 Right to Buy applications, further saving £1.2million in discounts.
  • Unlawful subletting of properties is where a tenant rents out their home without the knowledge or permission of the landlord.
New legislation has given investigators powers to obtain more information when investigating tenancy fraud to ensure fraudsters are caught and made accountable for their actions.

Cllr John Riddle, cabinet member for housing at Northumberland County Council said: “International Fraud Awareness Week is an excellent opportunity to spread knowledge and awareness across the county and the region on tenancy fraud. 

“Tenancy fraud can lead to anti-social behaviour in neighbourhoods, and leaves families who are in desperate need of housing on the waiting list, and in temporary accommodation. Cracking down on tenancy fraud will undoubtedly benefit many families across the county.”

Anyone that suspects any type of tenancy fraud is encouraged to report this via the Northumberland County Council Fraud Hotline on 01670 624359, email fraudline@northumberland.gov.uk or online form.