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Showing posts with label eviction from social housing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label eviction from social housing. Show all posts

26 Aug 2016

Illegal sub-letter goes unpunished

A council tenant who illegally sublet his flat while living elsewhere has been forced to hand in his keys.

The flat in Bemerton Heath was given back to the council after investigators found the tenant had not lived there for years. He had actually been living with his partner and had sublet his one-bed flat to his friend.

When shown evidence of his actions, the tenant surrendered his keys and terminated his tenancy.

It comes as part of a council crackdown on tenancy fraud. In the past nine months, council sleuths have focused on illegal subletting and abandonment.

Using the latest computer software and tip-offs from the public, 15 properties have been regained, six of which belong to Wiltshire Council.

Cases can be taken to criminal prosecution as offences have been committed under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013.

Anyone who is found guilty of illegally subletting parts or the whole of their home could be fined up to £50,000, receive a criminal record and could be sent to prison.

The main tool for the identification and detection of the tenancy fraud is through the use of sophisticated tenancy profiling software from Housing Partners called ‘Insight.’ The technology flags up where properties may be occupied by someone other than the tenant or the tenant may be living elsewhere. Using this intelligence, further investigations are carried out.

Dick Tonge, cabinet member for finance, said: “Although technology is an effective tool to help identify fraud, we still need people to let us know if they suspect fraud is happening – almost half of the fraud cases investigated have started with tip-offs from the public.”

Source

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."

Source

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.

31 Mar 2015

Costs order for social housing fraud

A family have been evicted from the three-bedroom house they were living in and ordered to pay £30,000 after it was discovered the social housing tenant who was supposed to be living there was actually living somewhere else.

Following an anonymous tip-off, Circle Housing worked alongside Hackney Council’s fraud investigations team and found the home in Forston Street, Shoreditch, was occupied by Margaret Nelson’s daughter Amanda Murray, 51, and her family, while 73-year-old Mrs Nelson – the tenant – lived in Sunnyhill Close with her husband.

Mrs Nelson, her daughter, and her husband Liam Murray, 52, and son Lee Murray, 29, were ordered to pay costs of £30,000 at the Royal Courts of Justice on March 11.

Under the recently introduced Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013, tenancy fraud is now a criminal offence that can lead to a two-year prison sentence and unlimited fine.

Mrs Nelson was accused of a “breathtaking” scope of lies, including that she was unable to read, whilst her daughter was accused of “lying like a trooper”.

Although Circle Housing Circle 33 conceded that Mrs Nelson was a regular visitor to Forston Street, it says she had not lived there for at least a decade.

Defence counsel argued that the fact Mrs Nelson stayed overnight in Sunnyhill Close did not necessarily mean that Forston Street was not her main home, and criticised a “flawed investigation”.

Avril Drummond, customer service manager for Circle Housing Circle 33, said housing fraud is taken “very seriously”.

She added: “Every home not occupied by the registered tenant costs taxpayers around £18,000 a year and prevents families on the waiting list and in need of a home from moving into a property. This case demonstrates the important role played by the local community as well as the local authorities in tackling tenancy fraud.”

The social housing property is now back in Circle Housing’s possession and will be made available to someone in genuine need of social housing.

In three years Circle Housing Circle 33 has recovered more than 200 homes.

Source

Social housing fraud is the most wicked form of welfare fraud. The sums that can be saved are huge, but it's so much more than the money - needy families are being deprived of the chance to have a settled home that suits their needs.

13 Feb 2014

Benefit thief evicted from social housing

We last noticed Cleo Embley in September, when she was jailed for substantial benefit fraud between 2008 and 2012. She also ran up serious rent arrears, which she owed to Hyndburn Homes.

During this time she was living with Paul Harwood, the father of her children, at their home in Rishton. She was caught out when a DWP investigation revealed Mr Harwood was living at her home and working full time.

She has now been evicted after Hyndburn Homes obtained a court possession order due to her ‘significant’ rent arrears and illegal benefits claims.

David Perry, enforcement team manager at Hyndburn Homes, said social landlords have an obligation to act where tenants flout the law:
We need to send a message to those who feel they can commit criminal acts without sanction from their landlord.
Embley has also been disqualified from applying for a new home through Hyndburn’s choice-based letting system.

Shirley Faragher, from Forbes Solicitors, said the eviction sends a clear message to benefit cheats:
We hope that this case will deter other tenants from committing this type of offence while living in our client’s properties.