A housing trust sicced its own anti-fraud team onto scammers to save around £140,000 over the past year.
Now, with the final figures in, bdht’s (Bromsgrove District Housing Trust) is pledging that “outstanding” saving towards the development of affordable homes.
Mark Robertson, bdht chief executive, acknowledged “sadness” at the need for an anti-fraud team combat the issues faced from a relatively small number of residents.
“However, in response, the team is doing a fantastic job of scrutinising our service provision to ensure only those who are lawfully entitled to properties are allocated them.
“To have saved £140,000 in one year alone is astounding and this money can now be put towards our programme of providing new affordable homes in Bromsgrove as part of our attempt of solving the dire housing crisis we face,” he said.
The team targets scammers seeking to secure bdht homes that they are not legally entitled to and was set up 18 months ago to investigate suspected offences under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2012.
Working with the National Anti-Fraud Network, as well as local residents , the team is able to identify fraudulent activity and, where necessary, reclaim properties which can then be passed onto rightful tenants.
bdht’s Communities First Manager, Annette Trow, explains: “We take housing fraud very seriously at bdht, as it strips away money that is desperately needed to provide homes for those in urgent need of social housing.
“We have seen a particular increase in right-to-buy fraud, where we have received a request to buy a property but we discovered that the named tenant was no longer living at the address and someone else, usually a relative, was trying to purchase the property at a reduced rate.
The offences investigated carry potential prison sentences of up to 10 years.
These particular cases not only consist of right-to-buy fraud, but also abandonment/sublet fraud which all come under the 2012 Act.
As a provider, bdht owns or manages one in ten properties in the immediate Bromsgrove area.
With a total of 3,927 properties in its portfolio, bdht has a stock investment value of £510m.