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Right to buy rules tightened after fraud investigations

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Right to buy rules tightened after fraud investigations

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

Fraud concerns see right to buy rules tightened Fraud concerns see right to buy rules tightened

Image: Fraud via Shutterstock

A local authority is tightening up its rules surrounding right to buy in an effort to combat fraud.

Sandwell Council's recent investigations have led to seven right to buy applications being cancelled or withdrawn, worth an estimated £321,000.

And the local authority is currently investigating 94 sales out of 481 that have "raised concerns".

The council saw a surge in applications for right to buy after the government raised the maximum property discount to £75,000 two years ago.

In 2012, the Audit Commission said there had been a 168% increase in fraudulent applications across the country, warning the trend would continue because of the increased discount.

Fraud occurs if a tenant does not give full or accurate information about their personal circumstances to gain a discount or get a higher one.

Sandwell Council sold 481 properties under right to buy between April 2012 and April 2014.

Deputy Leader Councillor Steve Eling said: “Most sales are genuine but there is a growing number which are raising concerns, not just in Sandwell but nationally.

“The massive discount has made the whole area of right to buy a minefield for councils. Nationally, it has become a golden opportunity for criminals to make easy money as well as laundering dirty money.

“Protecting the public purse and hard-working council tax payers is a top priority and we have taken firm action to do this, including asking the applicant to say where they are getting their purchase money from and thoroughly checking every application."

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