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Council recovers over 250 homes obtained by deception

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Council recovers over 250 homes obtained by deception

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

Fraud Fraud

A London council has managed to recover over 250 homes from tenants who only obtained them to illegally sublet, abandon or purchase them under the Right to Buy scheme.

Since April 2012, Southwark Council have reclaimed 266 properties in a major crackdown on tenancy fraud.

Tenants who reside in alternative properties after illegally sub-letting their home or those just not occupying them, face evictions and the courts.

A range of unannounced tenancy checks, joint operations and initiatives are frequently exposing cheats.

The council – one of London's largest local authority social landlords - set itself a target to recover 300 properties by April 2013.

Southwark leads the way nationally in property recovery. In 2011/12, 191 properties were recovered representing 11 percent of the national figure.

The council is also investigating purchases made under Right to Buy and homes allocated by Registered Social Landlords.

More evictions will follow as the council steps up a wide-ranging campaign to ensure only bona fide tenants remain housed.

Typically it takes an average of four weeks for a property to be relet to a housing applicant following recovery. The borough has an estimated 20,000 people on its housing waiting list.

Adebola Dixon lives with her 10-year-old after being re-housed in a two-bedroom council property which was successfully recovered

The healthcare assistant said: "I am so pleased to have a place to call home after over three years of living in temporary accommodation and staying with friends and family."

Councillor Ian Wingfield, cabinet member for housing, said: “Southwark has 20,000 people currently on the council waiting list so we need to make sure that every single council home is being occupied genuinely. This illegal occupancy is not only depriving people who genuinely need housing, but occupants are often also exploited by unscrupulous self styled 'landlords' who make huge sums in rent.

“We are constantly reviewing tenancy checks and cracking down on suspected housing cheats. If we find that someone is committing housing fraud, we will take whatever steps are necessary to evict and recover the property. We also urge tenants who suspect fraud to either speak to their housing officer or inform us, online, via telephone or anonymously, if preferred.”

Councillor Richard Livingstone, cabinet member for resources, said: “The council’s anti-fraud teams are working tirelessly with front line services to help prevent and detect fraud. 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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