ENFIELD Council’s housing and counter-fraud teams have yet again successfully recovered Council properties which have been illegally used, abandoned or were no longer being used as the tenant’s main home, and made them available for people in genuine need.Between April 2018 and March this year, 65 Council homes were recovered. Many of these properties had been subject to tenancy fraud, which is the use of social housing by someone who is not entitled to it. This includes:
– The unauthorised sub-letting of a property by council tenants to people who have no tenancy agreement with the council
– Submitting false information on a housing application form to gain a tenancy
– Wrongful tenancy succession where the property is no longer occupied by the original tenant.
Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Social Housing, Cllr Gina Needs, said: “This partnership working between the housing and counter-fraud teams is very well established in Enfield. The main purpose of this ongoing operation is to get social housing to the people who rightly deserve it, making it available to people in genuine need of assistance. Council housing is scarce and we need to ensure every single property goes to the right person – not to help line fraudsters’ pockets.”
As part of the clamp-down, a dedicated Right-To-Buy Fraud Officer cancelled 30 – nearly 20 per cent – of applications submitted by long-term tenants looking to buy at a discount the home they were renting. In many cases, applicants had exaggerated their income to obtain a mortgage offer. In other instances, one of the beneficiaries from the proposed sale was found to be a third party, not resident at the property, typically another family member helping to fund the right-to-buy purchase.
Cllr Needs added: “Had these applications been allowed to complete unchallenged, the tenants concerned would have received a substantial discount against the purchase price, totalling over £2.97 million for all 30 properties. Right-to-buy was not introduced to help people become private landlords or to provide family members with a financial boost. We will stop a right-to-buy application and could even look to prosecute for making a false application. We need to make sure the system is fair and we must make sure social homes are not being lost.”