A combination of old and new methods are helping Wiltshire Council free up social housing homes for those in genuine need. In the last nine months, the council’s corporate investigation team have been focussing on tenancy fraud, including illegal subletting and abandonment. Through tenancy profiling software and information from the public, 15 properties have been regained, six of which belong to Wiltshire Council. These properties have been freed up to offer to applicants on the housing waiting list. In the latest investigation, a council property in Bemerton Heath, Salisbury was handed back to the landlord Wiltshire Council when an investigation found that the tenant had not been resident for a number of years. The tenant had been living with his partner elsewhere and had sublet his one-bed flat to his friend. When challenged with evidence of his actions, the tenant surrendered his keys to the council and terminated his tenancy. As a result of the investigation, the council now has another home to offer to someone in genuine need. Cases of this nature can be taken to criminal prosecution as offences have been committed under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013. Anyone who is found guilty of illegally subletting parts or the whole of their home could be fined up to £50,000, receive a criminal record and could be sent to prison upon conviction. The main tool for the identification and detection of the tenancy fraud is through the use of sophisticated tenancy profiling software from Housing Partners called ‘Insight.’ The technology flags up where council properties may be occupied by someone other than the council tenant or that the tenant may be living elsewhere. Using this intelligence, further investigations are carried out to gather evidence to determine the facts and take appropriate action. Dick Tonge, cabinet member for finance said: “Although technology is an effective tool to help identify fraud, we still need people to let us know if they suspect fraud is happening – almost half of the fraud cases investigated have started with tip-offs from the public.” Residents wishing to report somebody who may be illegally subletting or is not living in their home can call Wiltshire Council’s confidential hotline on 01249 706256. Fraud can also be reported on the council’s website www.wiltshire.gov.uk “Report It” feature which is also available on the My Wiltshire App, which is available for Android, Windows and Blackberry phones. You do not have to give your name and you can be assured of complete confidentiality at all times.