War on cheats sees every home checked

Council crackdown on housing cheats.
Council crackdown on housing cheats.

HOUSING cheats are being targeted in a campaign of spot checks by council officials.

Officers will be doorstepping all the borough’s 10,500 council homes to check who’s living there and make sure properties are not being sublet.

So far 1,000 homes have already been visited and 18 were found to be abandoned or illegally sublet.

The campaign, under a banner of Blow The Whistle On Housing Cheats, also calls on tenants to inform on neighbours believed to be subletting their property.

Sarah Hamilton, spokesman for Dacorum Borough Council, said: “Where a property has been abandoned we can take possession or get keys back almost straight away.

“Other properties that are occupied, we serve notice to quit, so it takes a bit longer.

“We take this case by case and if there is someone we find who is not the tenant but is in genuine housing need or vulnerable, we work with them to try and meet their needs.

“We are doing this to make sure that properties go to genuine applicants, and that the system is a fair one – and that people who qualify for housing are occupying the properties.

“If anyone not occupying the property or subletting wants to hand keys back before they get caught by our officers, call or email the housing department.”

The checks involve asking to see photo ID or a National Insurance number, which is matched against details and pictures held on file.

Councillor Margaret Griffiths, cabinet chief for housing, said: “The council takes breaches of housing tenancy agreements, such as illegal subletting, very seriously.

“We want to ensure that council houses are available for those most in need of them, so checks like these are essential to ensure that houses are not being misused.”

If you suspect someone is a housing cheat, contact Lindsey Walsh or Tracy Vause on 01442 228000, or email housing@dacorum.gov.uk

All reports can be made anonymously and will be held in the strictest confidence.