Birmingham City Council’s service director for housing transformation, Rob James, explains why tackling tenancy fraud is so important and how people can help:

Most people will be aware that there is a national housing shortage and all councils need to house people in an affordable and acceptable way.  In Birmingham we’ve built well over 2,000 homes since 2009 through the Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust (BMHT), but the waiting list for social housing continues to grow.

As well as the need to be increasingly creative in providing more homes. We also need to make sure that our stock of social housing is allocated to those people most in need of our support.

Within the council a dedicated team within Internal Audit work closely with Housing and Legal colleagues and Registered Providers to identify and investigate potential cases of tenancy fraud, along with any associated fraud around benefits and Council Tax. Where it is found that someone has either gained a social housing tenancy fraudulently or they’re not using their property as intended, the team will take action to end the tenancy, recover the property, and if necessary prosecute the offenders.

This month we successfully prosecuted a man for tenancy fraud.  He’d said his family were being evicted from their family home and they needed our help.  It turned out that the home in question was one he owned and which he rented out once we’d rehoused him depriving another family of a home.  The courts sentenced him to 16 months in prison, see http://www.birminghamupdates.com/man-sentenced-to-16-months-imprisonment-after-lying-to-get-a-council-house/ We were able to investigate after someone tipped us off.  The team needs your help to bring more criminals to justice and free up more homes for those who really need them.

Do you know someone who:

  • Is subletting or renting out their council property or Housing Association property without permission?
  • Is not using their council property or Housing Association property as their sole or principle home?
  • Has abandoned their property or who are using it for potentially illegal purposes?
  • Has used false documents to obtain a council property or Housing Association property?
  • Has swapped their council property or Housing Association property without consent?
  • Has continued staying in the property after the legal tenant has left the property or died, without informing the landlord?
  • Is looking to purchase their council property by exercising their Right to Buy but are not using the property as their sole or principle home?

If you suspect someone is a tenancy cheat, please let us know. It could make a big difference to people in real need and make it fairer to everyone.

You do not need to tell us who you are and you can report information to us anonymously, but if you would like our investigators to be able to contact you for more information please leave your name and how to get in touch.

You can help us by giving as much of the following information as possible:

  • Names of the people involved
  • Their address
  • Any alias names they may have
  • Any other addresses
  • What type of fraud it is (for example, subletting all of the property, not living at the property, has obtained the tenancy or property unlawfully)
  • Details of the fraud and any other information you may have.

You can report tenancy cheats by contacting us on the Fraud Hotline at 0121 303 4130 or by email at  FINAFT@birmingham.gov.uk

We look at every referral sent to us and all reports made to us will be treated in the strictest of confidence.

So please help us to tackle our housing shortage, allocate housing fairly and bring criminals to justice.