Cracking down on housing fraud

HOUSING cheats are being tracked down, caught out and stopped in their tracks due to the determined hard work of the East Dunbartonshire Council’s Fraud Team.

It is estimated that as many as 50,000 social homes across the UK are occupied fraudulently.

And in East Dunbartonshire, that figure is estimated at between 140-200, costing the council anywhere from £2.5m - £3.7m.

The Council is committed to tackling this fraud in order to make best use of its housing stock.

Tenancy fraud can take guises such as unauthorised sub-letting where a tenant claims to live at a property but sub-lets all or part without the council’s consent, non-occupation where a tenant claims property as their principal home but lives elsewhere, using false information to obtain a tenancy, key selling, where a tenant leaves a property and passes the keys on in return for a favour or payment, unauthorised exchange and assignment, where a tenant gives the tenancy to a partner or family member who lived in the property with them without obtaining the Council’s permission or wrongly claimed succession, where the occupier is not a person entitled to succeed after a tenant’s death or after they have vacated the property and/or succession rights have been exhausted).

Within the last three months the council’s Fraud Team received information alleging that fraudsters had been trying to obtain the tenancies by submitting phoney applications.

The Fraud Team successfully established that two residents had provided false information to try to obtain newly built properties.

In both cases the offer of the properties were withdrawn and allocated to genuine applicants.

Depute Leader of the Council and Convener of Housing and Community Services, Ashay Ghai warned would-be fraudsters that East Dunbartonshire was not the place to try their housing scams.

He said: “Housing tenancy fraud is not a victimless crime - far from it. In fact, it reduces the quality of life for the thousands of families who are unable to access social housing when their need is genuine.

“Tenancy fraud affects families on the housing waiting lists and costs taxpayers at least £900m every year. It is right that councils deal with it effectively.

“These fraudsters would not have been caught without the crucial information provided by members of the public and I would urge anybody that has information about further Housing Fraudsters to contact us. They can ring their local Housing Office (numbers on www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk), call the council’s Fraud Team on 0141 578 8220 or e-mail them at fraud@eastdunbarton.gov.uk.”