Tenancy fraud is unfortunately a harsh reality for housing associations and local authorities. However, the impact is not just felt by landlords, tenancy fraud also takes away opportunities from people in genuine need of being rehoused.
What is Tenancy Fraud?
There are many types of tenancy fraud but Subletting (or not using the property as the sole or principal home) is high on the list of offenses. Here are examples of some recent cases:
Subletting - or not using the property as the ‘sole or principal home’
- No justification for retention of the property - We were alerted by neighbouring residents to a case where the person in question was believed not to be living in the property. An investigation into the details of the named tenant showed a perfect record of rent payments. Attempts to contact the resident regarding the allegations eventually revealed that although the resident’s things were at the home, the property was being used for storage, whilst the named tenant was actually living elsewhere. Following our investigations, the tenant agreed to hand back the keys which will enable us to let the property to someone more in need of a home.
- Subletting to multiple persons - On a recent visit to a resident, our Housing Officer was greeted at the door by someone who claimed to be living at the property but was not known to us as a ‘named tenant’. The Housing Officer did some background checks on the named tenant which revealed that they were also linked to another property over 100 miles away. When the named tenant was challenged on this information they maintained that they lived in the Accent property and commuted to the other location every day for work. With reasonable suspicion of foul play, further information was obtained that proved regular financial activity in the location of the non-Accent property. Crucially this activity also included weekends which didn’t match with the named tenant’s claim about commuting. Further to this the financial information also revealed regular payments going into the tenant’s account. Credit checks documented that there were a succession of other people living in the Accent property.
As a result of this evidence, a notice was served to the named tenant on the basis that he wasn’t using the property as his sole or principal home. The keys were returned to us before the case was heard in court, however the charges remained and we were granted an Unlawful Profit Order of £1,700 against the named tenant. This was for the difference between the rent that was paid to us and the rent that the named tenant was charging the subtenants. We are delighted that the property is now occupied by a couple who had been living in temporary accommodation.
How You Can Help to Stamp Out Tenancy Fraud
As with our example of a tenant not living at their assigned property, getting intelligence about the tenants’ absence from neighbours was invaluable. Residents and communities are often the best equipped to spot suspect behaviour. We don’t encourage making accusations or following people around, but we are always happy to investigate concerns about the potential misuse of a home.
How to Get in Touch About Tenancy Fraud
If you suspect that an Accent resident is committing a fraudulent act, please Contact Us on 0345 678 0555 and the matter will be referred to your Housing Officer.