Tenancy fraud

Tenancy fraud policy

This policy outlines how we prevent and detect tenancy fraud and what steps we take to deal with suspected or actual tenancy fraud.


We aim to make best use of our homes and ensure that they're occupied in accordance with the law, the regulatory framework, our tenancy agreements and our charitable objectives. Preventing and tackling tenancy fraud is an important way in which we can achieve this aim.

Preventing and tackling tenancy fraud is in our residents’ interests and we believe it is supported by all but a few residents. This policy will be reviewed annually and is the responsibility of the head of housing services.

Scope of this policy

We define tenancy fraud as a situation where a customer has breached certain terms of their tenancy agreement. This can take many forms and includes but is not limited to:

  • Not using the property as their 'sole of principal' home which includes:
    • Succeeding, assigning or mutual exchanging a tenancy without the landlord's permission after the legal tenant had moved out or died
    • Unlawfully subletting the entire property, including subletting the whole or part of the home for commercial gain such as through Airbnb
    • False succession claims
    • Selling keys to someone not authorised to live in the property
    • False application for joint or other authorised customer
  • Obtaining or attempting to obtain a property using false statements / documents or failing to disclose relevant information which may impact on eligibility (eg through misrepresentation of identity and / or misrepresentation of circumstances).
  • Right to buy and right to acquire fraud

Legislative and Regulatory Framework

The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 made it a criminal offence for customers to sublet or part with possession of their home or any part of it without permission.

Section 80 of the Housing Act 1985 and section 1 of the Housing Act 1988 states that a customer (the tenant) must use the home as their "only or principal home."

The Housing Regulator expects registered providers to take a pro-active approach to prevent and detect tenancy fraud as detailed below:

  • Registered providers shall publish clear and accessible policies which outline their approach to tenancy management, including interventions to sustain tenancies and prevent unnecessary evictions, and tackle tenancy fraud.
  • Registered providers shall make sure that the home continues to be occupied by the tenant they let the home to in accordance with the requirements of the relevant tenancy agreement, for the duration of the tenancy, allowing for regulatory requirements about participation in mutual exchange schemes.

This policy applies to current and former tenants of Magna Housing Ltd. Separate processes apply to leaseholders.

The policy specifically covers:

  • The prevention and detection of tenancy fraud
  • Action on the above

Policy statement

How we prevent and detect tenancy fraud

We aim to ensure that each home is let to and occupied by the person(s) to whom we have allocated it. We'll verify the identity and circumstances of prospective customers.

We carry out new tenancy visits to check the person we granted the tenancy or mutual exchange assignment has moved in.

Our tenancy agreements include clauses relating to transferring tenancies, subletting, absence from the home, succession and mutual exchanges. We provide guidance and information to customers about their rights and responsibilities in relation to these and other clauses.

We have policies and procedures on a range of tenancy matters that can give rise to tenancy fraud, including lettings, succession, assignment, mutual exchange, right to buy and right to acquire.

We'll take steps to ensure that our homes continue to be occupied by the person(s) to whom we have allocated them in accordance with the relevant tenancy agreement for the duration of the tenancy.

We'll publicise tenancy fraud and raise awareness of the issue. We'll encourage customers to let us know if they suspect tenancy fraud. Any information we receive will be held in the strictest confidence and all reports can be made anonymously.

We provide easily accessible mechanisms for customers, colleagues and other agencies to report concerns.

We'll work with local authorities and other organisations, take part in regional or countrywide tenancy fraud forums and share data for the purposes of preventing fraud and / or reducing crime.

How we deal with suspected or actual tenancy fraud

We'll investigate all cases of reported and / or suspected tenancy fraud.

Where we find evidence of tenancy fraud, we'll take robust action to recover the property including possession proceedings or action to enforce the lease.

Tenancy fraud is not victimless. We recognise that there may be unauthorised occupants who are unaware that tenancy fraud has been committed. We'll give appropriate advice and information to such occupants and help to raise awareness through our social media platforms and external publications. We also collaborate closely with partner agencies eg support groups where cases come to our attention.

In accordance with the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013, where we find evidence of a criminal offence, we'll consult with the relevant local authority with a view to that authority bringing a criminal prosecution. We'll also seek an unlawful profit order.

We'll support local authorities if they decide to take criminal action against our customers by providing them with information to support criminal action proceedings and taking joint action against the customer.

We'll share (give and receive) relevant information with third parties for the purposes of preventing, investigating, and tackling tenancy fraud. When sharing personal information, we'll comply with all aspects of the Data Protection Act 2018 (and the General Data Protection Regulation from 25 May 2018).

All colleagues that are involved in the tenancy fraud reporting / investigating process are provided with mandatory tenancy fraud awareness training via our learning management system, which is renewed every three years.

We'll publicise our successful tenancy fraud recovery cases internally and externally.


The Director of Customer Operations is the accountable person in relation to all aspects of tenancy fraud.

The Head of Customer Experience and Home Services and the Head of Customer and Community Support are responsible for operational delivery of the prevention, detection and action on tenancy fraud.

Governance, Performance Management and Review

This policy will be reviewed every three years and approved in line with the Policy Delegation Framework.

We'll record the number of investigations we undertake into unlawful subletting or other tenancy fraud and the number of homes we recover as a result of these investigations.

Tenancy fraud is monitored by senior colleagues and the Risk and Audit Committee review the fraud detection and prevention measures annually.