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 properties and ensure that they are 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.
What is tenancy fraud?
Tenancy fraud involves tenancy misuse and / or unauthorised occupation. Tenancy fraud can take many forms and includes but is not limited to:
- Obtaining housing by deception (eg through misrepresentation of identity and / or misrepresentation of circumstances)
- Non-occupation by tenant as their principal home (excluding abandonment)
- Unlawful and / or illegal subletting including subletting the whole or any part of the property for commercial gain such as through Airbnb
- Unauthorised assignment
- False succession claims
- Key selling
- False application for joint or other authorised occupant
- Right to buy and right to acquire fraud
How we prevent and detect tenancy fraud
We aim to ensure that each property is let to and occupied by the person(s) to whom we have allocated it. We will verify the identity and circumstances of prospective residents. Our tenancy agreements include clauses relating to transferring tenancies, subletting, absence from the home, succession and mutual exchanges. We provide guidance and information to tenants 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 will take steps to ensure that our properties 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 will publicise our approach to tenancy fraud and raise awareness of the issue. We will encourage residents 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 will work with local authorities and other organisations, take part in regional or countywide 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 will investigate all cases of reported and/or suspected tenancy fraud. Where we find evidence of tenancy fraud, we will take action. This may include taking steps to recover possession of the property.
We recognise that there may be unauthorised occupants who are unaware that tenancy fraud has been committed. We will give appropriate advice and information to such occupants and help to raise awareness through our social media platforms and external publications. We also work 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 may liaise with the relevant local authority with a view to that authority bringing a criminal prosecution. We may also seek an unlawful profit order.
Monitoring tenancy fraud
We will record the number of investigations we undertake into unlawful subletting or other tenancy fraud and the number of properties we recover as a result of these investigations. Tenancy fraud is monitored by senior staff and the Risk and Audit Committee review the fraud detection and prevention measures annually.