16 Oct 2013

Tenancy cheats to face full force of the law

This is the headline to a Government press release today. (h/t V N CounterFraud)
The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act comes into force from today (15 October 2013), and means anyone found guilty of committing this tenancy fraud will face a fine and a custodial sentence of up to 2 years. Previously they faced little more than having to hand back the keys to a property they weren’t living in.

Tenancy cheats who live elsewhere and rent out their social home could cost the taxpayer as much as £1.8 billion a year, while making thousands of pounds in profits.

It is estimated that around 100,000 social homes in England could be unlawfully occupied.

Today’s new laws seek to redress the balance, and will give social landlords the power to recover the proceeds of sub-letting. This comes on top of £19 million government funding given to councils across the country to combat this fraud.

Measures including setting up specialist investigation teams and advanced data-matching techniques have been known to help individual landlords recover more than 100 homes a year - and uncover even larger cases of benefit fraud.
Social housing fraud is the wickedest of welfare crimes. Not only is there a financial cost. People who need and deserve social housing are being denied it, often for years.

Barnet Council has already taken the initiative by offering a short amnesty for illegal sub-letting.

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