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19 Feb 2014

Tenancy fraud costs Huntingdonshire £1.8 million a year

We've previously seen Huntingdonshire District Council taking a lead role locally here and here. Now we have another update, saying that "a new tenancy fraud busting organisation has been set up which could save Cambridgeshire tens of thousands of pounds a year".

Huntingdonshire District Council played a key role in working with other local authorities and social housing providers to get the Cambridgeshire Tenancy Fraud Forum off the ground. The new group will establish a centralised countywide approach to reporting and investigating tenancy fraud and to raise the profile of the problem.

Tenancy fraud in Huntingdonshire alone is estimated at around £1.8 million a year and the Audit Commission put the cost to the taxpayer nationally at £1.8 billion in 2012.

Cllr Barry Chapman, executive councillor for customer services at the district council, said: “The creation of a shared forum to identify tenancy fraud will deliver considerable financial savings and ensure that those people most in need of housing are not kept waiting for accommodation because of another person’s greed.”

Tenancy fraud is committed when council or social housing tenants sub-let their property, allow others to use it or leave it empty.

It also involves giving false information to get a tenancy, to apply to buy a council house or to acquire a tenancy the applicant was not entitled to by some other form of deception.

Around 90,000 homes across the UK are thought to be used in contravention of the tenancy conditions. Last year the Government introduced the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act which makes it an offence for a tenant to sub-let a property, with up to two years in prison as a penalty.

Tenancy fraud and social housing fraud is the wickedest offence against the welfare state. It doesn't just cost taxpayers money, it deprives families of a decent home.

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