Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Two thirds of councils miss all tenancy fraud cases

Seventy one per cent of councils in Britain did not detect a single instance of tenancy fraud last year despite an estimated 28,000 cases in local authority stock.

That is the finding from research published today by information group Callcredit, based on Freedom of Information Act requests and existing data.

The study estimates local authorities across Britain identified 2,140 cases of tenancy fraud last year, giving a detection rate of less than 10 per cent. It found 69 per cent of local authorities in England did not detect any cases of tenancy fraud in 2011.

The situation was worse in Scotland and Wales where 85 per cent and 88 per cent of local authorities respectively did not identify any tenancy fraud cases.

Within England the figures for non-detecting local authorities ranged from 18 per cent in London up to 83 per cent in the east midlands.

The research found only 15 per cent of local authorities had a strategy for tackling tenancy fraud. Eighty five per cent of councils with a dedicated strategy or team identified cases of fraud, compared with only 19 per cent of the councils without a strategy.

The most common type of fraud was unlawful subletting, which accounted for 40 per cent of cases, closely followed by non occupation, which accounted for 38 per cent. The other main types of fraud concerned applications and successions.

Andrew Davis, director of public sector at Callcredit, said: ‘Regrettably public sector fraud is soaring and one of the biggest areas is tenancy fraud. It is a sad fact of life that wherever social housing is found, tenancy fraud is too.

‘Clearly from the results of our survey it is clear to see that those local authorities that do have dedicated strategy and fraud investigation teams are beginning to yield results.’

Inside Housing is running a free webinar on identifying and combating tenancy fraud on Monday next week, you can register for the event here.

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