25 Apr 2015

Woman faces eviction after housing benefit fraud

A 43-year-old woman from Fetcham is facing eviction after admitting that she gave false information to obtain social housing.

Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) successfully prosecuted Shamrock Close resident Tara Woodford for housing allocation and benefit fraud.

Redhill Magistrates' Court heard Woodford had obtained a property that she was not entitled to, which could have been allocated to someone in genuine need.

The fraud referral was first raised by her housing provider, Circle Housing Mole Valley.

Investigators established that Woodford's son, who had been declared as her responsibility on her original application, had in fact moved in with his father at the time of the allocation of the property. He lived and attended school in another part of the country.

When interviewed by investigators, Woodford admitted that false information had been provided when applying for housing, and also when making a claim for benefit to help with rental payments.

She was given a conditional discharge for two years and ordered to pay £100 towards court costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Rachel O'Reilly, the council's head of services, said MVDC and Circle Housing work closely together to identify and investigate allegations of tenancy fraud, with suspected cases being investigated by the council's fraud investigation team:
Social Housing is a scarce resource and residents can wait many months, or even years, before appropriate properties become available.

The Housing Register is administered by MVDC, and properties are allocated based on the genuine needs of the applicant. MVDC is committed to ensuring these applications are robustly checked and investigated and that legal action is taken where fraud is proven.

Anyone convicted of this type of offence will not qualify for social housing for a considerable period of time.
Woodford is now facing separate legal action from Circle Housing Mole Valley with a view to evicting her from the property.

Glynis Gatenby, managing director at Circle Housing Mole Valley, said: "We will always take action against residents found to be committing tenancy fraud as this allows us to return homes to people with a genuine housing need. If you suspect someone of committing fraud in Mole Valley, call the MVDC fraud hotline on 01306 879284. All calls are treated anonymously."


So now we have to wait for another court hearing so that she can be evicted from the social housing she shouldn't have had in the first place. Complacency rules - this process needs to be streamlined.

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