Don't get caught out like Eastenders' Dot Cotton - the kinds of fraud used by council tenants in Bristol
EASTENDERS' favourite Dot Cotton has been in trouble with the Walford Council, in the BBC soap, for sub-letting her council flat while she was away. There are several forms of similar fraud costing councils money. Here are examples of some of them:
Right To Buy case
Mr A took up a tenancy with the council in 2005. An investigation showed he had bought a shared ownership property in the Bristol area around the same time the tenancy began and that the Council Tax account had been in several different names since.
The right to buy application was completed at about the same time as the irregularities came to light.
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The property was subsequently brought back into housing stock within nine months and lost rents and costs totalling £4k were also recovered.
The Housing Officer was suspicious that Mrs B had not been seen at the property for some time when tenancy audits had been completed – it was always her friend who was there.
The tenant had also tried, without success, on more than one occasion to add her friend to the tenancy agreement.
An investigation found that the tenant had been married for 10 years and purchased another property in the area.
Notice was served on the tenant but she did not respond and the three-bed house was recovered.
It is not clear whether the tenant sub-let, sold keys or simply just moved on without telling the council.
Mr C applied to exchange from a one-bed to a three-bed property, stating that his two daughters lived with him.
An investigation found that one daughter lived at her Mum's address and that the other daughter owned another property.
Council Tax records also showed that the tenant claimed to live alone and was in receipt of a single adult discount.
The exchange was refused.
A council tenant applied for a larger property because they said two children were living with them.
But at the same time that the application was received, another person used the same two children to apply for council housing.
The applicants were called in for interview so the investigating officer could establish which applicant the children actually lived with.
The children were then removed from one of the applications and the size of properties that they could bid on was reduced accordingly.
A person who applied for council housing failed to declare they already owned two properties.
The applicant claimed that they had no income and were living in Bristol in overcrowded conditions.
They were in fact living and working more than 100 miles from Bristol.
Once they had successfully bid on a property, they sublet it instead of moving in.
The property has since been recovered.
Housing officers already suspected that a property had been sublet however when an appointment was made to visit, the tenant was present and claimed they were living there.
The investigating officer discovered that the tenant was claiming housing benefit at an address in London.
With evidence provided by the London borough, it was possible to serve a notice to quit on the tenant and recover the property.
A housing officer reported suspicions that a tenant lived elsewhere.
Investigations found some publicly available information that the tenant was possibly living with his girlfriend.
The housing officer visited the girlfriend's address and found them living together.
They denied the allegations, but within a week, a Notice To Quit was received from the tenant stating he had moved in with his girlfriend.