Our Housing Fraud team have recovered over 327 homes since May 2010 - homes that have now been offered to people who need them. (This represents an estimated saving to the public purse of over £5.886m which is the average cost of £18,000 to house a family for a year.(Audit Commission ‘Protecting the Public Purse')

They investigate and act on every report they receive. Here are some of our success stories where we have got homes back or cancelled offers of housing.

 

Not living at his property

An anonymous caller contacted the Fraud Team to report that they had been told about a private flat to rent but suspected it was a council owned property.

Fraud Officers investigated and found that the property was owned by the council and that the tenant had moved out to live with their partner.

Mr S had submitted a Right to Buy application to purchase the flat and was due to receive a discount of approximately £54,000.

Notices were served and Mr S decided to terminate his tenancy to avoid court action.

Not living at his property

The Fraud Team received a report that Mr S was not living at his 1 bedroom flat.

Fraud Officers investigated and suspected he lived with his partner elsewhere in Wolverhampton.

An unannounced visit was made to the partner’s property and Fraud Officers found Mr S there.

He decided to terminate his tenancy and hand the keys back prior to any court action being taken.

Fraudulent Right To Buy

Our Tenancy Fraud Team was notified of a suspected fraudulent Right to Buy on 11th July 2016.

The team carried out checks which confirmed the sale was quite far advanced with a completion date close and a discount of £48,000 off the value of the property.

An investigation was opened and the fraud team established the tenant had moved out of the property months before into a privately owned home.

Based on the investigation and evidence, notices were served on the purchaser at the tenancy address and at the address where they were really living. When the tenant  realised we were on to them, they withdrew from the purchase and terminated the tenancy. This has resulted in a 3 bedroom house which was about to be sold at a hugely discounted price being retained as a council house to be given to a family in genuine need of housing. 

Mr and Mrs M - False application

Mr and Mrs M applied for housing along with their two small children. They said they were lodging in a 3 bedroom house, only having sole use of 1 bedroom and shared facilities with two other people. They were awarded band 2 priority due to the lack of one bedroom and sharing facilities. A provisional offer of a 2 bedroom flat was made and Mr and Mrs M provided documents to prove their residency and completed a pre-offer checklist. Further checks were made to verify the information they had given and it was found that Mr and Mrs M rented the property from a private landlord and the tenancy was in their name only. It was not a house in multiple occupation meaning Mr and Mrs M were suitably housed. Due to the false information they provided the offer of the 2 bedroom flat was withdrawn and their application was placed into band 4 with no priority.

Miss D - False application

Miss D applied for housing for her and her child claiming to be lodging with family. She was awarded band 2 priority as she didn't have sole use of a bedroom and sharing facilities with her family. Miss D was being considered for an offer of a 2 bedroom flat and provided documents and a completed pre-offer checklist in which she declared she had never had a council or housing association tenancy. Our fraud team share data with 19 other local authorities and registered providers across the West Midlands and through data sharing we were able to find out that Miss D did have a tenancy with another local authority where she had rent arrears outstanding and had been investigated for anti-social behaviour. Miss D was interviewed by our officers regarding the false information she had provided on the pre-offer checklist which resulted in the offer of the 2 bedroom flat being withdrawn and an application made to exclude her from the waiting list.

Mr & Mrs M - False application

Mr and Mrs M claimed to be a homeless family when they applied for housing in Wolverhampton. An assessment was carried out and because they had nowhere to live they were given a higher priority need for a home. They bid for a number of homes before they were given the tenancy of a two bedroom house in Wolverhampton. It was a house that 238 other families also bid for. A few months after they moved into their new home in Wolverhampton, we found out that the couple weren’t homeless at all. When they applied for housing with us they already had a tenancy elsewhere. We took them to Court and prosecuted them under the Fraud Act. They both received a fine and Community Payback. Further action is being taken to get the property back.

Miss H- Subletting

Following an anonymous tip off, Miss H was investigated for subletting her home. Fraud Investigations officers found out she was living and working in London and renting out her flat in Wolverhampton. Miss H was interviewed and admitted subletting her flat but refused to give the keys back to us. Court action was taken and the Judge awarded us possession. Miss H not only lost her tenancy, she was ordered to pay hundreds of pounds for the legal costs of taking her to Court.

Mr A - Subletting and using a false identity

Mr A was working as a Church Minister in Wolverhampton when fraud officers found out he was subletting his council house in Wolverhampton. When the officers investigated, they discovered Mr A had used a false identity to get the tenancy and was actually someone else. Before the fraud team had a chance to take further action, Mr A returned the keys and disappeared without trace.

Mr & Mrs T – False application

Mr & Mrs T applied for a house in Wolverhampton and claimed they were lodging with others and were overcrowded. They bid on properties advertised in Homes in the City and were about to be offered the tenancy of a 3 bedroom house. Lettings officers asked the fraud team to check the details on the application. When they investigated, fraud officers found out that the couple and their children were not living with others, they had use of a private three bedroom house. The offer of the council house was withdrawn and the home has now been let to a family in genuine need.

Mrs T - subletting

Mrs T worked as a teacher in a local school when fraud officers investigated her for tenancy fraud. The officers found out she was living with her partner in a private property several miles away from her three bedroom council house. Further investigation revealed she was subletting the council home to her sister. When Mrs T was interviewed and questioned she opted to terminate the tenancy of the property rather than go to Court. The house has since been re-let to a family in genuine need of a home.

Mr D – Not living at his property and benefit fraud

Following a report that Mr D wasn’t living at his 3 bed maisonette in Wolverhampton Fraud Investigations Officers discovered that Mr D lived with his family in Wales, leaving the council property empty whilst claiming full housing benefit. A joint investigation was carried out with Benefit Fraud Officers, resulting in Mr D’s housing benefit being stopped. Notices Seeking Possession were sent to Mr D to his address in Wales and he later decided to give the keys back for the property before any further action could be taken.

Mr K - subletting

Mr K claimed full housing benefit for a 1 bedroom flat in Wolverhampton. A tenancy audit was carried out and the Tenancy Officer found the property to be sparse and had concerns about Mr K’s residency. Mr K was questioned about this and was adamant he lived at the property. A visit was carried out a few months later by the same Tenancy Officer and a different man answered the door claiming to be Mr K. He allowed the officer access and signed relevant paperwork. Notices seeking possession were served for sub-letting his property to other persons and the real Mr K ended his tenancy without further action being taken..

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