Newcastle City Council are raising awareness of tenancy fraud across the city as part of a regional awareness campaign established by the North East Tenancy Fraud Forum (NETFF).
The awareness week, running from 4-8 February, covers areas including:
•Application fraud where somebody lies about their circumstances to get a property or to be moved up the housing list. This could prevent those in the most need from getting a property and could mean families end up in temporary accommodation unnecessarily.
•Illegal sub-letting where a council or housing association tenant does not live in their property and then rents part or all of it out to somebody else. This can result in sub-tenants being exploited. Also, the tenant may be illegally profiting from the sub-let.
• Right to buy / Right to acquire fraud where somebody lies or provides false information to enable them to buy their property when they would otherwise not be entitled to (for example, if they are not living at the property). This reduces the number of properties available for those who need them. As a result, more properties may need to be built and this is expensive.
It is estimated that across the UK, tenancy fraud costs local authorities approximately £845 million a year and between 2013-16, the UK Fraud Costs Measurement Committees Annual Fraud Indicator estimated that the cost of tenancy fraud across England was £1.8billion.
In Newcastle alone over 60 cases were investigated between 2014-18 and as a result 16 properties were recovered from those committing tenancy frauds. One individual was ordered to repay over £28,000 and was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, suspended for 2 years, after being found guilty of committing 2 counts of fraud.