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Council seizes 140 properties in fraud crackdown

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Council seizes 140 properties in fraud crackdown

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities, Legal, Local Government

Council seizes 140 properties in fraud crackdown Council seizes 140 properties in fraud crackdown

A council has managed to seize 140 properties since April in a major crackdown on fraud.

Southwark Council - which manages 54,000 homes - has launched a number of initiatives to tackle housing fraud, such as 'Operation Bronze', which has so far recovered 17 properties, 16 of which have already been re-let to people previously living in temporary accommodation. The operation targets those that have obtained tenancies using fake documents.

Meanwhile, 'Operation Silver' has recovered 21 properties, with "significant progress" made on a further 18. The operation has also been successful in the area of Right to Buy, with the council responding to the heightened risk of fraud since the rate of discount was increased to £75,000 earlier this year. Operation Silver has already managed to block three Right to Buy sales.

The National Fraud Authority estimates that tenancy fraud costs amount to around £900m per year. It is also estimated that there are at least 50,000 homes in England being unlawfully occupied.

Councillor Ian Wingfield, cabinet member for housing, said: “We are committed to successfully recovering council properties from the wrong hands and ensuring they are given to applicants with a genuine housing requirement. We are constantly reviewing tenancy checks to make sure that the people living in council homes are the proper authorised tenants, and cracking down on suspected housing cheats. If we find that someone is committing housing fraud, we will take steps to recover the property and will evict them and pursue them for the cost of lost rent and council tax. No quarter will be given.”

Councillor Richard Livingstone, cabinet member for resources, said: “We are seriously clamping down on fraud. The Council’s anti-fraud teams are working tirelessly with front line services to help further prevent and detect fraud in this and other service areas. Any fraudster should expect a knock on the door. Committing fraud against the Council is stealing from your friends, family and the community.”

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