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7 Oct 2013

Kingston and Richmond pursue social housing fraud

A crackdown on housing cheats will more than triple the number of people caught and save council tax payers about £1m a year.

Housing tenancy fraud, such as unlawful sub-letting of properties or making a false Right to Buy application, costs councils nationwide in the region of £900m each year.

Since April, a partnership between Richmond and Kingston councils has recovered 11 properties with eight more due to be seized in the future.

This is estimated to have saved up to £200,000 based on an Audit Commission estimate that the cost of placing a homeless family in temporary accommodation is £18,000.

The two councils formed a Social Housing Investigation Partnership which aims to uncover 60 cases of housing fraud every year and reducing the number of fraudulent social housing applications.

The partnership is the first to be formed between two London boroughs to combat cheating tenants.

Both Richmond and Kingston will receive £200,000 in the next two years from the Department of Communities and Local Government to keep the partnership going.

Richmond Council has so far seen 15 prosecutions in 2013 against cheating tenants who have committed housing fraud.

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