Council leading battle against London tenancy fraud
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Housing, Legal
FraudImage: Fraud via Shutterstock
Hackney Council is one of London's top performers in the fight against tenancy fraud.
The local authority recovered 159 properties and cancelled 81 housing applications following investigations in 2013/14 - representing more than 10% of all properties recovered in London over the period.
The council says it is focussed on recovering the maximum number of misused properties so that these can be made available to those in genuine housing need, and has pledged to use all means at its disposal to achieve this end.
Cases investigated by the council during the period include a sub tenant who assumed the original tenant’s identity after they had moved abroad and then sub-sublet the property.
Another case involved a tenant who was paying their rent using stolen credit cards while sub-letting the property.
Council investigations also found a small number of Hackney tenants were living abroad in places such as Antigua, Australia, Columbia, Ecuador, France, Gambia, Ghana, India, Nigeria, South Africa, Turkey and the USA.
These investigations all resulted in a property being recovered and then being used to house people in genuine need.
Where appropriate, the council will visit the address where a tenant is actually believed to be living to ensure the prompt return of illegally sub-let homes.
Those misusing their tenancies included a doctor, a nurse, an estate agent, a property developer, a business owner and a housing officer employed by another local authority.
Ian Williams, the council’s corporate director for finance and resources, said: “Hackney is determined to ensure that our limited social housing stocks are used for those genuinely in need of housing assistance.
“We continue to take a firm stance against those involved in the subletting of social housing, which not only deprives families of permanent accommodation but also places a significant financial burden on the council at a time when we are already working hard despite reduced budgets to deliver services that are valued by our residents.
“We will continue to deal robustly with those who seek to defraud the Council. In the last two years we have recovered over 300 properties that have now been used to house those in genuine need.”