We take tenancy fraud very seriously. If someone lives in a property that they aren’t entitled to, those on our waiting list and most in need of social housing have to wait longer to be housed.
There are different types of tenancy fraud. Here are some of the most common examples:
- Application fraud / obtaining housing by deception – where a person gets a home by giving false information on their housing application or does not inform the Group of changes in their circumstances;
- Unlawful subletting – where a tenant rents out their home without the knowledge or permission of the landlord;
- Unlawful or unauthorised succession – where the resident dies and the ‘successor’ either does not declare their succession or they try to succeed when they are not entitled to;
- Abandonment / unlawful assignment– where a resident stops using their tenancy as their main or principal home, possibly allowing another person to live there without permission;
- Key selling – where a resident is paid to move out and pass on their keys to someone else in return for a one-off payment;
- False Right To Buy/Right To Acquire – where a tenant/resident makes a Right to Buy or Right to Acquire application and gives false information in their application which affects their eligibility.
Why does Gentoo need to tackle Tenancy Fraud?
Social Housing is a precious commodity - the UK as a whole is desperately short of affordable housing. Those in greatest housing need will be forced to wait longer to be allocated a property if our houses are occupied by individuals who have no legal entitlement to be there. Gentoo Group has a regulatory duty to properly manage our housing assets. We cannot effectively manage issues such as anti-social behaviour, repairs issues and neighbourhood sustainability if we do not know who is living in our houses.
Recovering a property lost to tenancy fraud means it can be re-let to another household, providing a secure home for a family.
What we are doing to combat Tenancy Fraud
We will ask for identification information from our customers at tenancy sign up and then we will carry out home visits to our customers on a periodic basis, again verifying personal identification for those living in the property, to ensure tenancy information is still correct.
We work with other social landlords and statutory agencies to detect fraud where required by law or where information sharing protocols are in place. Gentoo Group take part in the Government’s Cabinet Office National Fraud Initiative (NFI) which data matches information from Housing Associations, Local Authorities, NHS and Government bodies throughout the UK to help detect and prevent Fraud.
Click here to read the National Fraud Initiative Statement.
Any data we handle is held and processed in accordance with the Group’s Privacy Statement.
The Group is a member of the North East and National Tenancy Fraud Forums which are used to exchange intelligence and best practice in tackling tenancy fraud within the housing sector.
What can you do to help?
If you leave your property for more than 28 days then you must inform your housing office. Similarly, if your circumstances change, you should also inform Gentoo.
If you suspect tenancy fraud is being committed, please let us know. Tenancy Fraud is a criminal offence and we will treat all reports very seriously. You can give us information anonymously, but in all cases, information provided will be treated in the strictest confidence and your identity will be protected.
There are many ways you can get in touch with us about tenancy fraud:
If you suspect someone is fraudulently claiming benefits, then you can report via the National Benefit Fraud Hotline, Monday - Friday 8am - 6pm:
- Telephone: 0800 854 440
- Textphone: 0800 328 0512
Please remember, your identity will be protected and we will treat any information you give us in the strictest confidence. You can report the suspected fraud anonymously but please try to give as much information as possible to help our investigations. The more information that we have the better the chance we have of stopping it. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to update you on the outcome of our investigation(s).
What happens if you commit tenancy fraud?
The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 made tenancy fraud a criminal offence. It provides for substantial penalties of up to two years imprisonment, Unlawful Profit Orders and fines. If you are caught, at the very least you are likely to lose your tenancy and may lose your right to social housing in the future. Please be aware of the tenancy fraud offences and do not put yourself in the position of breaking the law. If you need assistance with re-housing please get in touch with your local Gentoo Housing office and we will help in any way we can.