Within the last year, the local authority has taken back 17 properties after discovering the tenants were all breaking the law.
Investigations found people illegally subletting their council homes, using false information to acquire a house and tenants not using their properties as their main or only home.
One case revealed a couple from North Shields claimed they were homeless to enable them to jump up the housing waiting list, even though one of them already had a council home, and they then sublet the spare property.
Another investigation found a woman had bought her own home in Tynemouth, but at the same time, she was committing fraud by attempting to buy a North Shields council property, through the Right to Buy scheme, which she claimed to be living in. It was later revealed she planned to rent it out for her own personal profit.
Cllr John Harrison, cabinet member for Housing and Transport said: “Tenancy fraud prevents homes from being made available for families and individuals with a genuine and sometimes desperate need for council housing.
“As well as it putting a strain on our housing waiting list, it’s estimated that it costs local governments nationwide around £900 million per year– money which could be much better spent elsewhere – and North Tyneside Council will not tolerate it.
“We take all reports of alleged tenancy fraud very seriously and will fully investigate reports using all the powers available to us to do so. We will also continue our robust checks those wishing to rent our properties”
The 17 homes were recovered by the council using new powers introduced by the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013. The act has seen tenancy fraud become a criminal matter – and local authorities now have the power to prosecute those who unlawfully sublet their social housing.
For more information about tenancy fraud, or to report a suspected case, call: (0191) 643 7572. You can also click on ‘report it’ tab on the council’s website,www.northtyneside.gov.uk.