Research has revealed that thousands of tenants in social housing are committing fraud by illegally sub-letting the property. The problem is thought to be much more widespread than official figures suggest which indicate the cost to be close to £2billion each year.
Researchers estimate that almost 170,000 properties were being fraudulently sub-let in the United Kingdom, which is 3% of the nation’s five million social homes. The detailed research examined data covering 150,000 properties which are all protected by landlord insurance and run by ten local councils and housing associations. While looking for potential fraud they looked at the tenancy lists, compared the registered tenant’s credit activity and whether the results matched the address it was associated with. They also looked at any credit activity by other adults who were using the council or housing association property as their home address.
Social housing tenancy fraud is the use of social housing by a tenant who is not entitled to live in that property. It includes unauthorised subletting for profit to individuals who are not allowed to live there. It also includes submitting false information in the housing application and acquiring buy to let insurance to get the tenancy. Illegally sublet properties is a nationwide problem and is forcing councils to put people in temporary accommodation, which costs around £20,000 each year per tenant.
Nick Mothershaw, a director of fraud and identity solutions, said “Our initial research suggests that the level of social housing tenancy fraud in Britain could be much higher than previously estimated. It also demonstrates how more effective data matching can quickly provide a reliable indication of what could be illegal occupancy and subletting. This means investigators can prioritise and deal swiftly with fraudulent cases. Reducing social housing tenancy fraud will significantly reduce the cost of temporary accommodation which we estimate to be at over £2billion a year.”