Across the UK it is estimated that 50,000 social housing properties are occupied by someone who shouldn't live there or who has obtained their property by deception. However, a national campaign has begun to crack down on social housing fraud.
If someone is caught committing housing fraud, they are likely to lose their tenancy and could lose their right to council housing in the future. Depending on how serious the fraud is, they could also be fined or sent to prison.
The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 commenced on 15 October 2013 and brings in new criminal offences on top of those already in the Fraud Act 2006.
There are different types of housing fraud; here are the most common:
When a person gets a council or housing association property by giving false information in their application they are committing housing fraud. For example, claiming to have more people living with them than they actually have, not telling us they are renting another council or housing association property or not telling us they are letting out a property they own.
When a tenant lets out their council or housing association property without the knowledge or permission of their landlord they are unlawfully subletting.
They often continue to pay rent for the property, but charge the person they are subletting to a much higher rate.
When a tenant dies, there are clear rules that say who can continue the tenancy.
Wrongly claimed succession is when someone who is not entitled tries to take over the tenancy. For example, they might say they lived with the tenant before they died, when in fact they were living elsewhere.
This is when a tenant passes on their property keys to someone who takes over the tenancy illegally in return for a one-off payment.
This is when a tenant does not use the property as their principal home and lives elsewhere.
Your help in reporting housing fraud is important because you see what's going on in your neighbourhood such as:
If you suspect someone is committing housing fraud please share your suspicions with us. It could make a real difference.
All reports will be treated with the strictest confidence and you don't have to give your name or address if you prefer not to.