A property fraudster who tried buying a Housing Executive home they had no right to has been caught out.
An application to buy a house in the local South Area was challenged following an investigation.
The property has now been given over to a family.
Housing Executive staff actively carry out checks to ensure genuine tenants live in its properties. These checks are ongoing and can happen without any warning at any time during a person’s tenancy.
In the South area the Housing Executive challenged an application to buy a property from a tenant who claimed they were entitled to purchase it.
The initial visit to the property alerted the team that the person may no longer have been residing there; further investigation revealed it was not the individual’s full-time residence. Consequently, the local office initiated civil action but the house was handed back before it proceeded.
Denise McNally, Housing Executive Area Manager for South, explained: “This example is an exception but was discovered thanks to the vigilance of our staff and we were delighted to allocate the house to a family in need.
“We will remain alert to potential tenancy fraud but do need the support of local people to help combat it. While some homes may be unoccupied because, for example the tenant is in hospital, there are properties which are not being used or lived in.
“During 2014 the Housing Executive recovered 192 properties across Northern Ireland and with over 21,000 on the social housing waiting list in urgent need of accommodation, it is vital we maximise the use of all our housing stock.”
She continued: “It’s in everybody’s interest to stop this happening. This could be stopping you or someone you know from getting a home. It could also be evidence that benefit fraud is being committed.”
If you suspect someone is a housing cheat, contact the Housing Executive either online at www.nihe.gov.uk, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephoning 03448 920 900. It could make a difference – all information will be held in the strictest confidence and can be left anonymously.
The Housing Executive will investigate all concerns and the necessary action will be taken. Anyone caught committing fraud is likely to lose their tenancy and could also, in some cases, be disqualified from applying for social housing in the future. They could also be fined and possibly sent to prison.