Help us catch the ‘housing cheats’

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A Housing Executive tenant has been givena three month suspended jail term after subletting his property as part of a benefits scam.

So far this year, unannounced checks by Housing Executive staff ensured that 192 properties were successfully recovered across Northern Ireland.

Eighteen properties were in the Causeway area, including five in Coleraine, four in Limavady, six in Ballymoney and three in Ballycastle.

Those homes have now been re-allocated to tenants in real need and who have been on the social housing waiting list.

Housing Executive staff actively carry out checks to ensure that genuine tenants live in our properties.

These checks are ongoing and can happen at any time during the person’s tenancy, without any warning.

Mark Alexander, Housing Executive Area Manager for Causeway, told The Coleraine Times: “We need the support of local residents. While some homes may appear unoccupied, for example the tenant may be in hospital, there are properties which are not being used or lived in.

“With over 21,000 on the social housing waiting list in urgent need of accommodation, it is very important we maximise the use of all our housing stock.”

The Area Manager added: “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, let us know, either online at www.nihe.gov.uk or by telephoning 03448 920 900. It could make a real difference.

“Anything you tell us will be held in the strictest confidence. You do not need to leave your name or details.”

“We will investigate your 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.  The Housing Executive will then also be able to make the property available to a family who need it most,” he concluded.