Tenancy fraud still an issue across Mid Ulster

Tenancy fraud
Tenancy fraud

PEOPLE fraudulently claiming social housing in Mid-Ulster are still managing to evade the law according to latest figures released by the Northern Ireland Audit Office.

The Northern Ireland Housing Executive have around 1000 properties in Cookstown, but according to the Audit office report there could be at least 200 of those which are being fraudulently occupied.

According to the report, in 2011-12 in Cookstown just two abandonment notices were served and two properties were recovered.

A major report issued this week suggests that major action needs to be taken against those who misuse subsidised housing as a way of helping to address the social housing shortfall across the country,

In Magherafelt, the NIHE have around 1,300 properties according to the NIHE Housing figures for 2012-13 but around 338 of those properties could be occupied by housing cheats.

In 2011-12, just two abandonment and non-occupation notices were served and just one property was recoved in Magherafelt.

The Comptroller and Auditor General who made the findings, recommends that Stormont adopt policies used in Great Britian to tackle such fraud including introducing reporting hotlines and appointing dedicated fraud investigators.

The Stormont Minister responsible for social housing, Nelson McCausland welcomed the report and said that he would “consider all the recommendations in full.”

A spokesperson for Mr McCausland’s Department of Social Development said: “DSD is fully committed to working with the Housing Executive and Housing Association to ensure that appropiate actions are taken to address the issues raised in this report.

“The Housing Executive works closely with other agencies to uncover instances of fraud. The Minister shares the concerns of C&AG and acknowledges that more needs to be done.”