SALFORD housing association Salix Homes has launched a campaign to clampdown on tenancy fraudsters.
The launch has taken place ahead of International Fraud Awareness Week, which starts next week (11-17 November).
“Tenancy fraud can take many forms, from illegal subletting and not using it as your main home, to obtaining a property by deception or the fraudulent purchase of a social housing property through the misuse of the Right to Buy scheme,” said tenancy specialist Anne-Marie Bancroft.
“At a time of a housing crisis, and with 7,000 people on the housing waiting list in Salford alone, it is crucial that housing fraud is taken seriously to ensure that the people living in social housing are legally entitled to be there.
“As a not-for-profit organisation, it is not right that some unscrupulous individuals are profiting from the homes we let, and for every home that is being used fraudulently, means once less home available for people in genuine housing need.”
Salix Homes says it has dealt with more than 60 cases of suspected tenancy fraud.
Last year alone, its officers uncovered three cases of the misuse of the Right to Buy Scheme, which allows tenants to purchase their homes at a significant discount if they’ve lived in the property for more than three years.
Had the fraudsters been successful, it would have cost Salix Homes more than £150,000 in discount, plus the loss of three properties from its housing stock that could be providing much needed affordable homes.
Another fraudster was caught out when housing officers spotted a post on the tenant’s Facebook page saying he’d moved abroad, despite still claiming to live in his Salford home.
To mark International Fraud Awareness Week, Salix Homes is encouraging its staff and tenants to be on the lookout for signs of tenancy fraud and report it.
Signs of tenancy fraud can include large numbers of people residing at a property, properties that stand empty for long periods, and tenants that are difficult to contact.
Throughout the week, Salix Homes says staff will also be ramping up their investigations carrying out spot-checks and tenancy audits at people’s homes to look for signs of fraudulent activity.
Main image: Anne-Marie Bancroft, tenancy specialist at Salix Homes