“Housing cheats beware” warns cabinet member

By on 09/11/2011 in News

Housing fraudsters will be tracked down and called to account says Cllr John Lines, Birmingham's Cabinet Member for Housing.  The warning comes on the back of the Council's new anti-fraud campaign – Blow the Whistle on Housing Cheats – launched today (Thursday 10). 

The campaign has been created to clamp-down on housing fraud by encouraging people to speak out about fraudulent activity.  It is backed by 11 of the city's housing associations, includes posters around the city and a dedicated telephone line to deal with reports.

Tenancy fraud includes:
• obtaining a council home by giving false information
• council tenants subletting their home without the council’s knowledge or  permission
• council tenants swapping homes without the council’s consent
• people staying in a council property after the legal tenant has left the property or died,   without informing the council
• Tenants who have abandoned their home or who are using it to grow drugs or for other   illegal purposes may also be committing fraud.

It's estimated that approx 1,000 housing association and council homes in Birmingham are occupied by someone who shouldn't live there or who has obtained the tenancy fraudulently. 

Cllr John Lines, Birmingham City Council's Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “With approximately 26,000 people currently waiting for a council home in Birmingham, we have to make sure that every one of our homes is let to people who need them, not to tenants making money at the council's expense, or by providing false information in order to gain a property.

“Those who take part in illegal activity are not only breaking their tenancy agreement and cheating the taxpayer, they are also cheating others out of valuable housing space, denying families the chance of a much-needed home.

“As a council we will not tolerate our properties being misused and will take appropriate action which could lead to eviction.”

The council has recovered £10.2million in unclaimed benefits during the last year, and the anti-fraud campaign is another step in the recovery programme, with homes being recovered from those who are breaking their tenancy agreement and denying others the opportunity of a place to live.

If a tenancy agreement is breached by fraudulent activity the council can seek possession of the house and initiate prosecution under the Fraud Act.  Birmingham Audit, part of the council's fraud team, will handle reports from people with information about suspected fraudulent activity.  All reports will be treated in the strictest confidence and can be given anonymously. 

Residents can report tenancy fraud by calling 0121 303 4130 (8.45am - 5.15pm Monday to Friday).  Or by emailing fraudhotline@birmingham.gov.uk

For more information contact Karen Blanchette on 0121 303 6969.

Notes to Editors

• Housing associations in partnership with the Blow the Whistle on Housing Cheats campaign are:
Harden Housing, Viridian, Bournville Village Trust, Optima, Ashram, Sanctuary Housing, Family Housing Birmingham, Castle Vale Community Housing Association, Friendship Housing, M&D and Midland Heart.

• In addition to the fraud hotline, the council has also trained housing staff across various department including neighbourhood offices, call centre staff and housing officers to deal with enquiries.

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  1. K H says:

    This motion by Councillor Lines speaks the truth and is totally correct.

    Criminality is retarding Britain, Birmingham their futures by putting off investors who want to create jobs, training, education and invest in infrastructure. These criminals also put off students from studying in out top universities, which destroys and denies the future of Birmingham and Great Britain.

    Those who involve themselves in crime families, gangs, criminality, those who do not want to work or are not capable of working, excluding those who are genuinely disabled or ill, should not be allowed to affect the future of Birmingham or Great Britain.

    Zero tolerance should be shown to these crime families, gangs and criminality.

    May I suggest Bromford Housing, and many landlords as possible are added to this list, including TMO’s.

    Private landlords (Calthorpe Estates and other private landlords regardless of their size) should be added on a separate statue, where cases of criminality such as anti social behavior, properties being inhabited by crime families and their members, drug cultivation, storage of firearms and other weapons, laundered, stolen and counterfeit goods, to drive down crime, antisocial behavior and intimidation to facilitate crime and crime families.