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23 February 2011
Fighting the fraudsters
Aragon Housing Association has announced major steps to tackle tenancy fraud through new initiatives.
Bedfordshire-based Aragon, which is part of the Grand Union Housing Group, has joined the Audit Commission’s National Fraud Initiative, which runs every two years.
This scheme matches information on tenants from a range of organisations to highlight any evidence of fraud, ranging from illegal occupancy to unlawful sub-letting. As it takes data from organisations across the country, it will highlight those who commit fraud across two or more districts.
Simon Barnes, Aragon’s Housing Services Performance Manager, said: “Social housing is in high demand and since funding for new properties has been reduced, it is essential that our existing homes are let to those who really need them.
“We already have measures in place, such as inspections in the first year of tenancy, but these new initiatives ensure we are playing our part in tackling tenancy fraud.”
These steps complement the Government’s crackdown on tenancy fraud. In December 2010, the Housing Minister Grant Shapps announced steps to deal with the 50,000 social housing properties that are illegally sub-let.
Aragon has also recently developed a Tenancy Fraud Strategy, which sets out how its staff will deal with the issue over the next two years.
Through the Tenancy Fraud Initiative, Aragon and its sister company SNH have identified over 100 possible cases where people may be illegally occupying homes. Although this is relatively low, these matches will be investigated to determine if tenancy fraud is taking place.
They recently received a report from a local resident about a housebeing illegally occupied, which resulted in the tenant handing back the keys and the house has since been re-let to a family on the housing waiting list. Reports can be made anonymously and all cases will be investigated.