Landmark tenancy fraud case win for housing association
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Legal
FraudImage: Fraud via Shutterstock
A housing association has won a landmark tenancy fraud case.
Viridian Housing has secured a money judgement of £31,000 plus costs against a sub-letting tenant who was actually living abroad.
This is thought to be the first such victory in England since the Prevention of Social Housing Act 2013 came in last year.
The fraud was uncovered when, during a routine visit, a housing officer didn't recognise the tenant who opened the door to a one-bedroom flat.
After the incident at the property in London's SW11, an investigation was launched that discovered that not only was the tenancy holder living abroad but was also claiming disability benefits in the UK.
Attempts to meet the tenancy holder were unsuccessful, with several cancelled appointments and an eventual attendance by a man posing as the tenancy holder.
Katrina Robinson, head of legal at Viridian, said: “A decision was made to enforce the Unlawful Profit Order (UPO) as we do not tolerate fraud.
"This is a clear message to those sub-letting that social housing is for those in need and anyone found to be profiting from this will be pursued to the full extent of the law.”
The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act was bought into effect in November 2013, and section 5 of the act, Unlawful Profit Orders, allows social landlords to seek a money judgement against a tenant in respect of any unlawful profit made as a result of sub-letting their social housing tenancy.
Viridian was able to prove that the fraud had taken place over two years and seven months, although it is believed to actually have been taking place over a period of four years.
As the tenant is gainfully employed abroad, Viridian will be enforcing the UPO abroad.
The housing association, which manages over 16,000 homes across England, has also secured immediate outright possession of the property from the tenant, who cannot be named due to being currently under investigation by the Department of Work and Pensions for possible benefit fraud.