Key amnesty launched to reduce tenancy fraud in East Dunbartonshire
As part of the amnesty, council and housing association tenants who have made a false housing application, are subletting their home without permission, or are no longer residing in the property will be given the chance to avoid prosecution.
At present there are more than 5350 social housing properties in East Dunbartonshire, with approximately 3500 of those owned by the council.
From 1 January until 31 January 2017 tenants will have a chance to hand in their keys or remove their name from the waiting list, no questions asked, before the council begins a major clampdown on tenancy fraud using data matching technology to help identify culprits.
The cost to the public purse for each case of tenancy fraud is approximately £93,000 and prevents families in need from having a home.
Someone commits tenancy fraud if:
- They give false information about themselves or use false documents when applying for housing
- They apply to succeed to a tenancy of someone who has died when they do not qualify by submitting false information
- They have a social housing tenancy already but live somewhere else
- They sublet the whole or part of their home to someone else without the consent of their landlord.
Anybody committing tenancy fraud could not only face having a criminal record but could ultimately face a prison sentence.
Leader of East Dunbartonshire Council, Councillor Rhondda Geekie, said: “We are experiencing an acute housing shortage in East Dunbartonshire and our social housing stock is vital to helping us address this.
“People subletting homes illegally are depriving another family of a permanent place to stay and it’s unfair to the thousands of people on our housing list, many of whom have been waiting a long time for a property.
“Anyone who hands in their keys to end their tenancy or removes their name from the waiting list during the amnesty will not have legal action taken against them and the council can re-let the properties to legitimate applicants.
“In these times of such financial constraints, it is more important than ever that we uncover all fraud against the council. We will continue to work with our partners to ensure that social housing is going to the people and families who need it.”
Stephen Macintyre, director of Hillhead Housing Association, added: “In the past the Association has found it frustrating that its powers to deal with tenancy fraud have been very limited, but now this joint approach offers a more effective means of dealing with people who obtain a tenancy fraudulently.
“We hope that this amnesty will help to ensure that only those in genuine need of a home get one.”