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We’re successfully ‘stamping out’ tenancy fraud

house-manikinThanks to the hard work and tenacity of our neighbourhood team and Cheltenham Borough Council’s (CBC) legal experts, two individuals who provided dishonest information to obtain a council owned homes have been prosecuted for tenancy fraud.

The prosecutions were brought after it came to light that the tenancies had been obtained via deception after the applicants provided dishonest information.

These latest successful detections and prosecutions are thanks to the county-wide campaign we have been actively involved in to combat tenancy fraud.   

Councillor Peter Jefferies, CBC’s Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “The vast majority of our tenants have honestly obtained a tenancy based on their needs however there are a small minority of individuals who have fraudulently obtained a council house or sublet for personal gain. Tenancy fraud unfairly uses up homes that should be available for families in need so I’m pleased that Cheltenham Borough Homes has been actively working in partnership with the council to combat this through awareness raising. Going to court is always the last resort but we want to send out the message that we will not tolerate tenancy fraud and will prosecute where tenancies have been obtained illegally through misrepresentation.” 

In April 2013 we joined forces with other social landlords in Gloucestershire to create the Gloucestershire Tenancy Fraud Forum (GTFF) and launched a campaign which has featured radio advertising on Heart Gloucestershire, bus advertising, the launch of a dedicated website (www.tellustoday.co.uk) and tenancy fraud awareness training for frontline staff.

Thanks to this awareness raising, the following two cases were detected:

In the first instance dishonest information was provided by an individual applying for social housing. The applicant stated that they were living with family when in fact they were privately renting a 3 bedroom property in Cheltenham. This dishonest information resulted in the applicant being placed in a higher priority housing band (silver) however the deception was quickly detected and the applicant was not allocated a home.  As a result of this deception on 19 January the applicant was found guilty under the Fraud Act and was fined £200, £170 court costs and £20 victim surcharge.

In the second case a woman was charged under the Fraud Act for failing to declare she owned a property whilst applying for and subsequently living in a council owned home. She was handed 100 hours unpaid work, £700 costs plus £60 victim surcharge. 

Anyone wishing to report someone they suspect of committing tenancy fraud can call 0800 408 0000 or report it confidentially at www.tellustoday.co.uk

ENDS

Notes for editors

Gloucestershire Tenancy Fraud Forum

The social landlords which make up the GTFF are Stroud District Council, Rooftop Housing, Severn Vale Housing, Guinness Hermitage, Gloucester City Homes, Two Rivers Housing and Cheltenham Borough Homes.

Examples of tenancy fraud:

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.

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 – is 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 – is where a tenant is paid to pass on their keys in return for a one-off payment to someone who then takes over the tenancy illegally.

Cheltenham Borough Homes:

  • CBH is one of the top rated ALMOs (Arms Length Management Organisations) in the country. ALMOs are not for profit companies that run social housing services for their local council
  • Currently CBH manage and maintain around 5,000 tenant and leasehold properties with high satisfaction and performance levels, when compared nationally with other housing providers
  • CBH put their customers at the heart of what they do; working with them to shape services and ensure the company focuses on local need
  • CBH deliver more than high quality core landlord services: they have an ongoing programme building new homes and regenerating communities; they support people to find work and employment; work to improve financial inclusion and develop stock to make it more energy efficient

Press contact: Catherine Best e: catherine.best@cbh.org t: 01242 775317  

 
 

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