Last month, a series of fraud investigations in the borough has seen four council-owned properties returned to Harrow Council – saving more than £350,000 of tax payer money.
Collaborative efforts between the Corporate Anti-Fraud and Housing teams at the council uncovered an individual who falsely claiming to live at a property before their parent’s death. Despite refusal to leave, the council pursued legal action, leading to a successful court eviction.
In a separate instance, a tenant, despite holding the tenancy for a decade, was found to be non-occupant with very little gas and electricity consumption over the time. Following an interview request and notice issuance, the keys were returned.
The team also successfully recovered a property at the council’s Grange Farm Regeneration programme. In this case, the tenant was offered a new-build property in return for giving up their existing home which was due to be knocked down – but they refused to engage with council officers.
Concerns were raised that the tenant was not living at the address and was subletting the property. This tenant was also linked to other properties in Luton and Peterborough, as well as others in Harrow.
There was also a voluntary handover of a property following an anonymous tip-off which prompted an investigation. Officers found the tenant was dishonest when declaring homelessness. Once the tenancy was granted the property was often vacant as they travelled frequently to and from the UK for extended periods of time.
Cllr David Ashton, cabinet member for finance and human resources said: “We are putting pressure on those abusing the system. It’s the job of our anti-fraud team to ensure taxpayers’ money is protected and used the way it should be.
“Thanks to the work of our officers, we have recovered several council homes which has saved us around £350,000. We will continue to protect the public purse and help those in genuine need of support.”
Cllr Mina Parmar, cabinet member for housing said: “There is a huge demand for social housing with many who have been waiting a very long time for a home. It is unfair there are a few abusing the system and denying families and individuals in genuine need of a home.
“I’d like to thank our teams for putting our residents first and helping get these properties back to us. We will continue to fight tenancy fraud and bring the law onto those who think they are above the law.”
Since April 2023, Harrow Council has successfully reclaimed seven tenancies, safeguarding a combined amount of over £650,000 from fraudulent activities.