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Swan Housing, along with all housing associations in England and
Wales, have a regulatory requirement to tackle tenancy fraud and to
make the best use of their stock to ensure their homes are let to
those with the greatest need.
In order to achieve this, Swan Housing had been manually collating data to identify potential cases for investigation. This had proven a time-consuming and not wholly reliable way to identify fraud, so in May 2017 Swan Housing began using Insight software.
Since implementation of Insight, the number of cases investigated by Swan as a result of the Insight software is over 1.5 times greater than those resulting from all other sources. In 2018 alone, we were able to recover 12 properties which had been used for tenancy fraud (with other investigations ongoing), which has enabled us to offer these recovered homes to other tenants in desperate need of housing.
Andrea O'Callaghan, Head of Business Improvement and Allocations, had this to say when looking at our first 18 months of using Insight:
First of all, the system has allowed us to match our records against information held by other agencies to identify potential incidences of fraud. The four main areas of tenancy fraud identified through our use of Insight are:
Not only has Insight enabled identification of cases, but the data gathered has also served to encourage swift resolutions, as Andrea explains:
As a registered provider we are unable to prosecute those we find guilty of tenancy fraud, as only local authorities have this power. Legal action would be required, which can be both lengthy and expensive, so our preferred solution is to encourage surrender of the property. As our knowledge of Insight increases, the number of cases of the tenant surrendering the tenancy has been growing.
One recent case illustrative of this, is detailed here:
Case Study:The tenant of a three-bedroomed flat
was flagged through Insight as having a mortgage at another
property. A joint investigation with London Borough of Tower
Hamlets (LBTH) Fraud Team discovered the tenant and their partner
had a joint mortgage on a property they were sub-letting while they
were living overseas. The Swan Housing property was used as a base
when they visited the UK. After being interviewed under caution the
tenants returned the keys.
Andrea adds that, "In addition to tackling fraud, we are using Insight to alert us to changes to the tenant's details and/or household members which helps to ensure our data is both accurate and up to date. We use the system to check the information provided for applications to amend a tenancy. This could include changing a sole tenancy to a joint, and vice versa, name changes and changes to household members. It is also used to verify application for assignments and successions.
If Insight does not confirm the details of those claiming occupancy (including for the specified length of time), they will have to provide further evidence and an explanation as to why they do not appear to be registered as living at the property.
Not only this, but Insight also highlights discrepancies between the data we hold and that of other agencies. There are currently around 700 tenancy discrepancies on our system that require attention; many of these will be as minor as a different spelling of a name, but in some cases, they can lead to evidence of fraud.
The majority of tenancy fraud cases can be detected by regularly checking whether a tenant is actually residing at the property and the most effective way of doing this is by combining our expertise and Insight data to undertake residency matching. Insight alerts our officers when a tenant details change, so we can be proactive.
Insight software is an important tool for tackling tenancy fraud and has proven invaluable in the recovery of properties and processing tenancy applications. Insight is also used by our Income team to help recover former tenant debt and ensure a new tenant can sustain a tenancy by undertaking a pre-tenancy financial assessment."
As Swan Housing has indicated in their use of Insight, the module is multi-faceted in its uses and benefits. From identifying potential incidences of fraud, to ensuring swift resolutions, proactive working leading to money-saving gains, supporting tenancy sustainability and recovering former tenant debt, Insight can be used by housing associations to provide a verified view of the facts, enabling them to make informed decisions around tenants and housing stock.
© Swan Housing Association 2018. All rights reserved. Company no. 28496R. VAT No. 713 9515 35
Registered address: Pilgrim House, High Street, Billericay, Essex CM12 9XY.
Regulated by: Regulator of Social Housing.
T: 0300 303 2500
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