Council in crackdown on tenancy fraud issue

Northumberland County Council has joined forces with partners across the region to warn people of the harm caused by tenancy fraud, which is depriving families and vulnerable people on housing waiting lists of a home.

Wednesday, 6th February 2019, 3:46 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th February 2019, 3:51 pm
Brought to you by the Berwick Advertiser team.

The council has teamed up with neighbouring local authorities and social housing providers for Regional Tenancy Fraud Awareness Week during which the authority is urging anyone who suspects a case of tenancy fraud to report it.

Tenancy fraud is when a council home is not occupied by the tenant and has either been abandoned or sublet, or when a tenant has obtained a home by deception or wrongly claiming succession after a family member dies.

Anyone who suspects tenancy fraud is urged to report it, in complete confidence, to the council fraud hotline on 01670 624359, email fraudline@northumberland.gov.uk

A social housing tenant must give their landlord the correct notice if they wish to end their tenancy and not leave the property empty or let anyone else live there illegally. This ensures that properties can be re-let quickly to another family in genuine need.

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Tenancy fraud is a criminal offence and the council’s fraud team investigate all allegations of tenancy fraud, which may involve gathering evidence from third parties and visiting tenants or investigating applicants on the housing waiting list to confirm the information given is correct. The council’s fraud team also investigate all right to buy applications to make sure properties are only sold to those entitled to them and that the money used to fund the purchase is from a legitimate source. If fraud is uncovered then further action is taken.

Over the past year, Northumberland County Council received 71 Right To Buy Applications, and as a result of the enhanced verification work 31 of these were withdrawn saving the authority £1,327,155.00 in discounts.

Further investigations have resulted in two Homefinder applications being withdrawn and 11 tenancies being terminated saving the council a total of £636,000.00.

Northumberland County Councillor Nick Oliver, cabinet member with responsibility for corporate services said: “Tenancy fraud is not a victimless crime and those that commit fraud to gain access to our social housing do so at the expense of those in real need. If you are aware of someone trying to jump the housing waiting list or you are made aware of a property being misused, please let us know about it.”

The North East Tenancy Fraud Forum membership includes registered social landlords and local authorities from across the North East: Northumberland, Gateshead, Newcastle, Durham, South Tyneside and North Tyneside councils, County Durham Housing Group, Johnnie Johnson, Home Group, North Star, Livin Housing, Gentoo Group, Karbon Homes, The Guinness Partnership and Your Homes Newcastle.

Anyone who suspects any type of tenancy fraud is urged to report it, in complete confidence, to the Northumberland County Council Fraud Hotline on 01670 624359, email fraudline@northumberland.gov.uk