L&Q recovers 179 properties following tenancy fraud crackdown
This International Fraud Awareness Week, new figures from L&Q reveal how they are delving deeper into the problem of property misuse as waiting lists for social housing reach record highs.
L&Q successfully recovered 179 social homes for people who need them as they put significant investment and resources into tackling tenancy fraud. As a result, 583 people entitled to social housing have been provided with much-needed homes.
With each case costing the taxpayer around £43,000, L&Q has saved the public purse an estimated £7.5m and gone from being one of the lowest performing G15 members in tackling tenancy fraud to the best performing landlord in the network.
Data has been captured since January 2022, when L&Q created a dedicated team of four qualified investigators and one manager, all of whom have a wealth of knowledge in legislation, regulation and all aspects of tenancy fraud.
From January 2022 to September 2023, the housing association received 1,364 referrals, all of which had desktop investigations completed at a minimum, made 320 out-of-hours visits to homes identified as fraud risks, conducted over 27 interviews with half under caution, served 78 notices, and issued four unlawful profit orders totalling almost £165,000.
Research published by the Fraud Advisory Panel and Tenancy Fraud Forum earlier this year revealed that at least 148,000 social homes could be subject to some form of tenancy fraud.
Nicola Evans, Tenancy Fraud Manager at L&Q and Chair of the G15 Fraud group, said:
“Amid a housing crisis with 1.2 million on the waiting list including over 100,000 people in temporary accommodation, every single social home has become extremely precious.
“L&Q has been stepping up efforts to prevent people from profiting from the scarce resource that is social housing. It’s always been there, but we have become more sophisticated and put more resources into combatting the issue.
“These figures show the positive difference our investment has had on holding those guilty accountable and freeing up homes for people in genuine housing need."
Tenancy fraud covers the unlawful subletting of social housing homes, making a false statement to obtain a home, false succession applications and fraudulently submitting a Right to Buy/Right to Acquire application.
Recent successes include catching an offender who was unlawfully subletting his home via his own letting agency, exposing an illegitimate disrepair claim after the resident denied access to his home, and winning a court case against a resident illegally subletting his Newham home whilst claiming Housing Benefit. Thanks to a joint investigation with Newham Council, this property was repossessed, and the resident received a court order to pay back over £100,000 of illegal profits.
L&Q’s approach to tackling tenancy fraud involves using every tool at its disposal. This includes statutory measures such as working with the police and local authorities to take legal action against fraudsters. The leading housing association has also developed a robust policy and procedural framework, which includes regular training for frontline and back-office colleagues in how to identify, investigate and respond to fraud effectively.