June is Key Amnesty Month and housing organisations across Kent are coming together to ask tenants to let us know if they have been breaking the rules of their tenancy by allowing someone else to stay in a property who’s not legally entitled to be there.
Town & Country Housing, as part of the Kent Tenancy Fraud Forum, is determined to tackle the problem of housing fraud.
Unfortunately, tenancy fraud restricts the amount of housing available for those really in need. For this reason, this June 14 housing associations and councils are taking part in Kent Tenancy Fraud Forum’s ‘key amnesty’ and waiving punishment for illegally subletting a property.
Just what is tenancy fraud?
There are several ways in which tenants can defraud their local authority or housing association landlord, and the penalties can be severe.
Tenancy fraud occurs when one of our homes is occupied by someone who is not legally entitled to be there, has obtained use of the property or leaves the property empty while living elsewhere.
It is also against the law for a tenant to make a profit from subletting a spare room in the house or to move out completely while charging another family or families rent on the home that is registered to them.
“There are also cases where the tenant dies and a relative falsely claims to have been living in the house for a number of years, sometimes claiming they were looking after the former owner, in order to be given the tenancy,” says Adam Simmonds, Kent Tenancy Fraud Forum.
Why should I act now?
Simply put, the consequences can be severe outside of Key Amnesty – i.e. a jail term of up to two years and fines of up to £50,000. Acting now and taking advantage of this one-off opportunity could mean you avoid prosecution.
Are there really no consequences?
Yes, during June’s month-long amnesty, tenants who hand in their keys so that their property can be offered to someone who really needs it will not face prosecution or legal action of any kind.
“This is a chance to avoid the consequences of being caught, which can be severe, by coming forward voluntarily during the amnesty. If they do that we will not take any further action, but if we are tipped off by someone else, we will investigate in the normal way,” comments Simmonds.
“The June amnesty only applies to tenants who come to us.”
Tenants wishing to hand in their keys can do so at Town & Country’s main reception (open 8.30am to 1pm Monday to Friday). Please include the address of the property so that the home can be re-allocated if you are posting keys back to us.
Anyone who wishes to report what they think could be fraudulent behaviour or believes they might be living in a home that is being sub-let illegally is also urged to get in contact with us on 01892 501480 (option 3 to speak to an advisor) or online, and you will be given as much advice and support as possible.
Please note that the amnesty:
- Only applies to tenants who hand in their keys voluntarily
- Lasts for the whole of June 2019
- Comes with a guarantee of no prosecution for the fraud
It does not apply to tenants whose fraudulent activities are uncovered following an investigation based on information provided by a third person, regardless of the date. If the campaign prompts someone to come forward and provide information that uncovers fraud, the perpetrator will be prosecuted.
Town & Country is taking part in Key Amnesty alongside local authorities and other housing associations including East Kent Housing, Golding Homes, Riverside, Ashford Borough Council, Medway Council, MHS Homes, Optivo, Clarion Housing, West Kent Housing, GCHA, Sanctuary, Southern Housing Group and Moat.