Across the UK it is estimated that 50,000 housing association and council homes are occupied by someone who shouldn’t live there or have obtained the tenancy fraudulently.
There are different types of housing fraud. Here are some of the most common ones:
- unlawful subletting – where a tenant lets out their council or housing association home without the knowledge or permission of their landlord. They often continue to pay the rent for the property directly to their landlord, but charge the person they are subletting to a much higher rate. It is unlawful and unfair to sublet and to profit from a property which could be given to someone legally entitled to occupy it. The Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 makes it a criminal offence for a tenant to sublet their home. The maximum penalty is a two-year jail sentence and a fine of up to £50,000. The court also has the power to make the tenant pay back any profits made through subletting.
- obtaining housing by deception – where a person gets a council or housing association home by giving false information in their application, for example not telling the landlord they are renting another council or housing association property or giving false information about who lives with them.
- wrongly claimed succession – where a tenant dies and someone, who is not entitled to, tries to take over or succeed the tenancy. For example, they might say they lived with the tenant before they died, when in fact they were living elsewhere.
- key selling – where a tenant is paid to pass on their keys in return for a one-off payment
Why is it important to tackle tenancy fraud?
There isn’t enough social housing to meet the needs of people who genuinely need it. We have to make the best use of the housing that is available ensuing that it is occupied by those who are legally entitled to do so. People waiting for social housing will have to wait even longer if homes continue to be occupied by people who have no right to be there
What will happen if someone is subletting?
Any Town & Country tenant currently subletting their home or committing tenancy fraud should arrange to hand back their keys without delay to avoid legal action being taken against them.
If someone is caught illegally subletting one of our homes, they could face a two-year jail sentence or a fine of up to £50,000.
We will be carrying out tenancy checks at a number of properties every year to ensure that no fraud is being committed and we will use this opportunity to update the information we hold on who is living at the property, collect up to date phone numbers and e-mail addresses, and assist with any other issues that may need resolving.
If you suspect tenancy fraud in one of our homes please contact us.