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Adactus Housing Association

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Last updated 26/09/2013

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  • Our policy

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    We are committed to providing housing for people in housing need. Social housing is a valuable national asset that provides security and stability to people in housing need. Tenants who benefit from social housing have an obligation to act within the terms of their tenancy agreements and will be subject to severe penalties should they commit fraud.  We have a duty to make best use of public resources and ensure its housing stock is properly managed. We are committed to tackling tenancy fraud as an organisation. 

  • What is tenancy fraud?

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    The practice of using Social Housing for a purpose other than its intended use has been labelled in a range of ways. The terms used to describe it include Tenancy Misuse, Tenancy Fraud, Unlawful Occupancy and Unauthorised Occupancy. This policy is written to encompass all forms of misuse and fraud, as follows:

    • Unauthorised Subletting
    • Non-occupation
    • Key Selling
    • Fraudulently Obtaining Social Housing
    • Wrongly Claimed Succession
    • Unauthorised Exchange and Assignment

    Unauthorised subletting

    The tenant claims to live at the property, but instead lets all or part of it out without landlords’ consent. Examples of this include:

    • The registered tenant allowing another person or group of people to live in the whole property, in exchange for rent (without consent of the landlord).
    • The registered tenant allowing another person to live in part of the property, in exchange for rent (without consent of the landlord)

    Non-occupation

    The tenant claims the property as their principal home, but instead uses it as a second property and uses it infrequently. Examples of this include:

    • The registered tenant lives at a different address, usually with a partner or family. The property is kept in reserve for the tenant to return to if their personal circumstances change.
    • The registered tenant lives at a different address but uses the property as a base for claiming certain benefits, also known as a  ‘Giro drop’.

    Key selling

    The tenant leaves the property and passes on the keys in return for a favour, or in place of a payment, or in exchange for payment. This would present itself as unauthorised occupation after the keys had changed hands.

    Fraudulently obtaining social housing

    The tenant provides false information in order to gain a tenancy. This includes:

    • Misrepresentation of circumstances - including providing a false statement when applying to join the housing waiting list, or providing a false statement when applying as a homeless person
    • Providing false identification – including using false documents or misrepresenting their identity using another persons’ documents

    Wrongly claimed succession

    Succession takes place automatically, when all the conditions are satisfied, after the death of a tenant or their vacation from a property. The rules surrounding succession are complicated, but the terms of wrongly claimed succession can be generalised as:

    • The occupier is not a person who is entitled to succeed (they do not have the right kind of relationship with the former tenant, or they have not resided at the property for appropriate length of time)
    • Succession rights have been exhausted, whereby the former tenant was a successor therefore no further succession can take place.

    Unauthorised exchange and assignment

    The tenant gives their tenancy to partner or family member who lived in the property with them, without obtaining permission from the landlord. Assignment, like Succession can take place within the conditions of the tenancy agreement, but all criteria must be satisfied in order to make the assignment lawful. Identifying tenancy misuse in this situation depends on the details of each individual case.

  • Preventing, detecting and tackling tenancy fraud

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    Prevention

    • We will continue to require new tenants to provide photographs and keep them recorded on the house file
    • We will visit all new tenants twice in the first year of the tenancy
    • When dealing with customers by telephone (e.g. when booking repairs or taking rent), we will only speak to the named tenant unless authorisation from the tenant has been given in writing beforehand.  In this instance a home visit will be undertaken to ensure that the tenant is still living at the property and to establish the reasons for allowing another person to deal with their tenancy matters.  Any support needs will be assessed at this visit.

    Detection

    • We will take reports about tenancy fraud from residents, tenants, residents groups and members of staff
    • All members of staff who have face to face or telephone contact with customers will be alert to the possibility that a property may be being used fraudulently
    • We will undertake customer profiling to proactively identify properties which show the characteristics of potential fraud

    Investigations

    We will investigate tenancy fraud using a range of methods, including but not limited to the following:

    • Officers will conduct home visits and will check each adult occupant against the photographs held on the house file
    • Home visits may, with the tenant’s consent, include looking in each room of the property and checking wardrobes, fridges and cupboards for evidence of occupancy
    • Check on benefit applications
    • Using credit reference agencies to trace individuals and establish residency (this will only be used in conjunction with other evidence and not in isolation).
    • If an unauthorised subtenant is found to be in the property at the time of the unannounced visit, the subtenant will be invited to give evidence against the tenant. Subtenants can be victims of a deception on the part of the social tenant, and may be unaware of their unlawful status as occupiers.
    • Officers will ask to see utility bills to check for usage and that the bill payer is the tenant.

    Partnership and data sharing

    We will work with the Local Authorities and their partners to achieve their key strategic objectives of tackling benefit fraud and meeting genuine housing need. There may be occasions when it is necessary to share tenants’ information between our partners. Officers will ensure that any data sharing takes place within the legal restrictions of the Data Protection Act 1998.

    Any data that is gathered during the course of the investigation will be treated with sensitivity and will only be recorded if pertinent to the investigation. Any data that is no longer needed following the investigation will be securely disposed of.

    Publicity

    We recognise that a raised awareness of tenancy fraud is important in combating it. We will raise awareness of tenancy fraud by publicising successful prosecutions of perpetrators amongst existing tenants via local press, our newsletters and other publicity opportunities.

    Supporting sub-tenants

    Where a subtenant has been identified we will support them through the rehousing process, including completing rehousing forms and making referrals to the relevant local authority.  We will keep them informed of dates of legal action and give realistic timescales for them to leave the property.

  • What if you suspect tenancy fraud?

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    You should contact us, providing details of the property and the reason you suspect it is being fraudulently occupied. We will accept anonymous referrals, but the more information you provide, the faster we can investigate. We will keep your identity confidential.

    We carry out a thorough investigation of all reports of suspected tenancy fraud, completing the initial investigation within 28 days of the report. Where appropriate, we will write to inform the person making the complaint of the outcome of the investigation. 

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  • 26/09/2013

    Updated by Athanasios Protopapas on 26/09/2013 10:47:01

    Comment: Spelling amends

    Details: (show)

    Chapter titled "What is tenancy fraud?" content changed.
    Chapter titled "Preventing, detecting and tackling tenancy fraud" content changed.

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  • 20/09/2012

    Updated by Chris Smith on 20/09/2012 10:33:14

    Comment: Updated tags

    Details: (show)

    New Tag assigned "tenancy fraud".
    New Tag assigned "Tenancy fraud".

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