Council team uncovers tenancy fraud during Right to Buy investigations
Published: Thursday, 18 October, 2018
Stroud District Council officers who process Right to Buy applications have uncovered a number of fraudulent cases, resulting in 2 council houses being retained by the council and preventing fraudulent discounts of £95,000 being claimed by tenants.
Right to Buy is a scheme that allows eligible council tenants to buy their home at a discount. Stroud District Council owns more than 5,000 homes throughout the district, and receives around 50 Right to Buy applications each year. Each application is thoroughly checked, using the resources of the Counter Fraud Unit where necessary.
In one case a tenant made a Right to Buy application for a property with a potential discount of £50,000. Investigations led council officers to believe that the tenant was in fact living elsewhere, and subletting the property. After a six month investigation, which involved interviewing the tenant under caution, the tenant withdrew their application and agreed to return the property to the council.
In a second case a Right to Buy application was received by a tenant who was also living elsewhere and subletting the property. Again, the tenant agreed to return the property to the council, and the Right to Buy application, with a potential discount of over £45,000, was withdrawn.
Another investigation into a Right to Buy application which was made by a tenant and a family member revealed that the family member was living elsewhere, making them ineligible to apply. Right to Buy rules state that family members can make a joint application but only if they have lived in the property for the past 12 months. As a result the family member was removed from the application.
“These cases have resulted in 2 council dwellings being retained by the council on our register for social tenants. With a waiting list of over 3,000 every home is precious,” said Alison Fisk, Stroud District Council’s Head of Property Services.
“Anyone thinking of applying for the Right to Buy should be confident that they are eligible to do so, and be mindful that we will investigate each application thoroughly".