More than £350,000 of taxpayer money diverted away from tenancy fraud

Close of of house keys

Last month (November), a series of fraud investigations has seen four council-owned properties returned to the London Borough of Harrow – saving the authority more than £350,000.

Joint work with the council’s Corporate Anti-Fraud and Housing teams found one individual falsely claiming to have lived at the property prior to the death of their parent. Refusing to vacate the property, the council successfully took the matter to court to evict them.  

In another case, a tenant was not occupying their property. Little gas or electricity had been used, and the tenant had not signed up to a water utility account despite having the tenancy for 10 years. The keys were returned after a request to attend interview and a notice being served.   

The team also successfully recovered a property at the council’s Grange Farm Regeneration programme. Here, 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 officers. Concerns were raised that the tenant was not living at the address and was subletting the property. The tenant was also linked to properties in Luton, Peterborough, as well as owning properties in Harrow. Their failure to co-operate left no option but to take the matter to court and proceed with eviction.  

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.”  

Since April 2023, the London Borough of Harrow has recovered 7 tenancies, protecting a total of more than £650,000 from fraud. 

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.”  

If you suspect fraud, please an email to the Corporate Anti-Fraud Team on or see our online referral form here. 

Published: 20th December 2023