We are continuing our crackdown on housing cheats by encouraging council tenants and leaseholders to report suspicious activity in their neighbourhoods
Housing fraud is a serious offence, preventing people with genuine need from accessing social housing. If caught, fraudsters can receive a fine, prison sentence or be disqualified from accessing social housing in the future.
In Southampton, the average wait for a three-bedroom council home is six years. According to the National Fraud Authority, tenancy fraud costs the public purse £18,000 per property.
The council has been working hard to root out housing fraudsters; in the last 12 months alone, the specialist Tenancy Fraud Team have:
- Taken three cases to civil court
- Progressed three cases for criminal court consideration
- Secured the return and relet of 11 family homes
- Saved the city over £1.3 million with checks for eligibility and funding on Right to Buy applications and £198,000 on fraudulent tenancies
But as the eyes of ears of their communities, tenants and leaseholders are best placed to support the fight against tenancy fraud by reporting their suspicions.
To coincide with National Tenancy Fraud Awareness Week (14-21 November 2021), the council has launched a "report it" function at southampton.gov.uk/tenancyfraud so that people can relay information about neighbours who are:
- Making illegal profits by subletting their council home to others
- Cheating the system by making a fraudulent Right to Buy claim
- Trying to jump the queue by lying on their housing application (for example by claiming to have children when they don’t)
- Living in a property without permission after someone has died
The reports can be made anonymously, and all the information submitted will be treated in complete confidence. Tenants and leaseholders can also make their reports via phone on 023 8091 7610, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by getting in touch with their Local Housing Office.
Councillor Spiros Vassiliou, Cabinet Member for Communities, Culture & Heritage, Southampton City Council, said: "With demand for council housing far outweighing availability, we all have a responsibility to ensure those most in need can access affordable homes. So, if there’s a property in your block or street where the occupants seem to change regularly, you’ve spotted someone collecting rent from subtenants, or you suspect someone has moved in illegally, please let us know. With your help, we can ensure crooks are caught and much-needed council homes are relet in the proper way."
Some tell-tale signs that might give tenancy fraudsters away include:
- A sudden change in who is living in the home
- Someone being vague about who lives in there or what their relationship is to them
- Increased anti-social behaviour at the property
- The property appearing to be abandoned
- A neighbour is talking about their landlord as a person, rather than the council
For more information, please visit our tenancy fraud pages.