What is tenancy fraud?
This is when a property is occupied by those who have no right to live there. It means that people in desperate housing need are denied a roof over their heads. Not only is this unfair, it is illegal.
Types of tenancy fraud
There are many different types of tenancy fraud. These are the most common:
- Unlawful subletting - when a tenant rents out all, or part of their home to someone else without our permission. (The ‘sub-tenant’ may be seen to be participating in fraud and as such may be committing a criminal offence).
- Failing to report a change in circumstances. (For example, a single person living on their own moves a partner or family member into their home. If they are claiming Single Persons Discount on their Council Tax and do not inform the local authority, this is benefit fraud which is a criminal offence carrying a potential prison sentence). This information is shared with local authority partners.
- Obtaining housing by deception - when a person applying for housing knowingly gives false information in their application.
- Unlawful succession - when someone who is not entitled to the property takes over the tenancy.
- Key selling – when a tenant moves out and sells their key to someone else. (Both parties may be seen to be working together to commit fraud and may face prosecution).
- Abandonment - when a tenant stops living at their home and leaves it, but doesn’t tell us and does not contact the local authority to stop any benefits they have been claiming.
- Making a fraudulent Right To Buy application.
- Keeping a social rented home when they own another property.
If the person living in the house is not the tenant, they could be committing tenancy fraud.
How we tackle tenancy fraud
We work closely with local partners and external agencies to identify and tackle tenancy fraud and we take legal action to regain possession of our properties. We occasionally carry out data matching exercises with partner agencies, to ensure the correct people are living in our homes.
Any cases of suspected fraud will always be investigated. We have arrangements in place which allow us to share information with other agencies and we often work together on cases.
In 2016 we recovered 10 properties and thanks to our frontline staff working in close partnership with our in-house legal team, we saved a substantial sum of money and put these properties back into use for families in genuine need of housing.
How you can help
Residents are the eyes and ears of our estates. If you suspect it, report it. Tenancy Fraud is a criminal offence and something we take very seriously. Please contact the Hyde Customer Services team on 0800 3282 282 or complete our online enquiry form.
What happens if you commit tenancy fraud?
If you are caught, you are likely to lose your tenancy and could lose your right to social housing in the future. You could also be fined and/or sent to prison and Hyde will robustly pursue our court costs.
Where we obtain evidence that you have made financial gain from subletting your property we can obtain an unlawful profit order to recoup any profits made by committing housing fraud.
Such an order can affect your credit rating and Hyde may pursue this money judgment by freezing bank accounts, putting a charge on any property you own or contacting your employer to send us money each month.