'No questions asked' - key amnesty launched to counter tenancy fraud
Monday 1 November: Hillingdon Council will be running a key amnesty (between Monday 8 November and Friday 17 December) to reclaim council housing that's being used illegally.
This is the chance for anyone to hand in the keys to the council property with no questions asked or any fear of legal action relating to the tenancy fraud.
Tenancy fraud costs councils hundreds and thousands of pounds each year and also means those who really need a home miss out. Over the past year in Hillingdon, 32 council properties have been recovered and rented to residents in genuine need of a home.
Examples of tenancy fraud include illegal subletting, wrongful succession, a fraudulent 'right to buy' application, lying about a tenancy agreement or housing application, or not disclosing a change of circumstances. It's also illegal for a tenant to fail to declare that they no longer live in their council property.
During the amnesty period, keys can be handed in at the main reception of the Civic Centre in Uxbridge. Anyone handing in the keys will need to fill in a short form to confirm the details of the property and that it is empty.
Cllr Martin Goddard, Hillingdon Council's Cabinet Member for Finance, said:"With an already huge demand for social housing, it's not right for properties to be sitting empty because the tenant moved in with a partner, is living somewhere else or making money by illegally subletting their council property.
"Tenancy fraud denies people on our waiting list a decent home. Our key amnesty will make a huge difference to those who are in genuine need of a home - and for the those committing fraud it means they have this window where they simply hand in their keys with no questions asked or fear of being prosecuted."
Tenancy fraud isn't always easy to spot but here are some signs that may give offenders away:
- a change in who is living in the home
- if a neighbour has passed away and a friend or family member is now living in the council property
- the property seems abandoned
- your neighbour is talks about their landlord as a person, rather than the council or housing association.
If you suspect tenancy fraud is taking place, report it in the strictest confidence to the Counter Fraud team:
- online at www.hillingdon.gov.uk/article/2442/Reporting-fraud-or-corruption
- call 0800 389 8313 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm)
- email firstname.lastname@example.org
- send a letter marked 'private and confidential' to: Counter Fraud Manager, 2N, Civic Centre, High Street, Uxbridge, UB8 1UW.