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Housing and tenancy fraud

Information about housing and tenancy fraud

Housing fraud

Most people applying for council or housing association houses are honest, and keep to the terms and conditions of their tenancy.

People who don't may be taking a home that they're not entitled to. This is unfair to the thousands of people waiting to be rehoused.

We are working jointly with housing associations to tackle those who abuse the system. This will ensure that properties are allocated to those that need them.

Social housing can be abused in many different ways.  It might begin when applying to receive social housing, and continue through to a misuse of the Right to Buy scheme. Some actions taken might be criminal offences, some civil breaches and some both.

Obtaining a property fraudulently

This is when a person obtains a tenancy for a council or social housing association home by giving false information. For example not declaring they are renting another property.

Unlawful subletting

This is when a tenant lets out their council or social housing association home, without declaring or obtaining permission from their landlord.

They often continue to pay the rent for the property, but charge rent to the person they're subletting to. 

Illegal use of property

This is when a tenant is using a council or social housing association property for illegal activity. Examples include, using the property for drug dealing, prostitution, and for growing cannabis.

Unlawful succession or assignment

When a tenant dies, there are rules about what should happen with the tenancy. Wrongly claimed succession is when someone who is not entitled, under the rules, tries to take over the tenancy. For example, they might say they lived with the tenant before they died, when in fact they were living elsewhere.

Right to Buy (RTB) discount fraud

This type of fraud may occur in the following circumstances:

  • applicant has not lived in the property for the qualifying period
  • applicant hides details of debt or bankruptcy
  • unlawful succession preceding the RTB application
  • unlawful subletting preceding the RTB application

Swapping homes

When two council or housing association tenants swap homes without obtaining consent from their landlords.

Antisocial behaviour

Where the tenant is causing nuisance or annoyance to neighbours, or is engaging in threatening behaviour. Please also see our anti-social behaviour page.

Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013

On 15 October 2013 the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 came into force.

This made subletting the whole of the property and/or parting with possession of the property a criminal offence.

The main objectives of the act are to:

  • deter tenants from committing social housing fraud
  • incentivise those already committing social housing fraud to stop
  • increase the powers of local authorities to investigate social housing fraud
  • increase the number of recoveries of fraudulently used socially rented homes

We have powers of prosecution and require people who have committed social housing fraud to pay back the profits of unlawful subletting on conviction.

How to report housing and tenancy fraud

The information you provide will be treated as strictly confidential.  And although you can remain anonymous and not provide us with your name and address, if you do these details will remain confidential.

If you suspect that someone is committing housing or tenancy fraud please call our confidential and free phone Fraud Hotline on: 0800 281879.

This is a free service staffed during our opening hours. An answer machine is also available to take calls received out of office hours.

Alternatively you can write to us at:

Audit and Fraud Department
Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk
Kings Court
Chapel Street
King's Lynn
PE30 1EX