‘’At BBFI we see public housing as a national asset. Some people choose to abuse their tenancy and in some cases Housing Officers can handle the situation. In some cases they can’t and that’s where BBFI come in.At BBFI, we recognise that Housing Authorities and Registered Social Landlords are busy and stretched and aim to provide extra pairs of hands and focused expertise in a budget savvy way. By reducing the amount of tenancy misuse hundreds of thousands of people now in temporary accommodation could be given a permanent home and become a permanent fully functional member of a local community, for everyone’s benefit.Nationally there are just over 1.8 million households on waiting lists representing 4.5 million people. London accounts for 354,000 and 886,000 of those respective figures. While this is only slightly more than would be proportionate, major cities the London has the potential to be a are hotspots where things get much worse.’’
Of the approximately 3.8 million social housing properties in England, the Audit Commission’s 2010 report protecting the Public Purse estimated that 50,000 were unlawfully occupied.Unlawful occupation of social housing is a huge drain on public finances, because local authorities are under a legal obligation to house people in priority need. Every such property that is being fraudulently occupied is a home not available to people in genuine need, who then have to be allocated temporary accommodation, at an estimated average cost per household to the local authority of £18,000 a year. Tackling tenancy fraud is a cost-effective way of ensuring that social housing is made available for those who need it. Shelters 2004 report 2living in limbo” estimated the cost of placing families in tempory housingto be £500M. Paul Slowey says “What we are seeing is a perfec storm in the social hosing sector. Both rents and propertie value have increased rapidly in the las few years, housing benefits have been cut and demand outstipes supply, what this does in real terms is increase the likelihood of sub letting, fraudulent right to buy applications and as HB is cut increases the demand for tempory accommodation.
BBFI is committed to tackling housing tenancy fraud in partnership with registered housing providers. We investigate and where deemed appropriate prosecute offenders and get properties back into the providers’ hands so that they can be allocated to people in genuine need of housing. We field investigators with strong housing management and policing backgrounds to undertake investigative work leading to the appropriate civil and criminal actions. BBFI’s expertise is grounded in a thorough understanding of the legislation applicable to social housing cases, including the Housing Acts and the Fraud Act 2006. Proprosecutions and possession cases are instigated by council contracted staff behalf of the Local Authority and with the authority of, our instructing public body. We can assist in the application y for the recovery of assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
When you have suspicions, BBFI have the resources and expertise to prevent, detect and tackle housing tenancy misuse in this complex and sometimes resource-intensive process.BBFI believe it is of fundamental importance not to turn a blind eye to tenancy misuse. We have hands on experience of premises where vulnerable tenants have been forced to make (?take up?) a right to buy application or hand over he keys or be rehoused and premises used for illegal purposes.
BBFI offer part and full time investigation services and we can tailor our service to meet your budget. BBFI are registered with the data commissioner’s office to carry out investigation work and we have a good understanding of the Data Protection Act 1998. Our senior management have a good understanding of the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights and we are mindful of the balance between investigation work and Article 8. Every case we take is subject to proportionality tests and formal monthly reviews by gatekeepers within your organisation and ours.
“Paul has a detailed knowledge of Council procedures and is down to earth and culturally aware… I would have no hesitation in recommending Paul to carry out this type of operation in the future.”
“BBFI have the infrastructure, specialist staff and knowledge to start a fraud team and effectively run it.”
“In the first six months BBFI investigated 100 cases and closed 53. The housing officers in partnership with BBFI have recovered the keys to or issued Notices to Quit (NTQs) in eleven cases and 47 are open and under investigation. Some of the open investigation cases are under long-term surveillance. This equates to a property recovered or NTQ issued every seven days worked.”
“Total costs spent on the BBFI services to date total £25k. Taking into account the 3 cases where RTB applications were withdrawn and assets retained in our stock as well as three cases where vacant possession was gained without costs of legal action we estimate the savings to the housing association to be upwards of £300k”
“I am proud of what we have achieved so far with the continued help of BBFI.”
“Through the partnership our staff are being upskilled to enable them to carry out more complex investigations.”
“We did not have the resources or the experience to tackle such a far reaching problem and had no idea where to start. We decided to hire professionals, BBFI on a trial basis which became more permanent.”
“As a result of 31 investigations the right to buy team working with BBFI have uncovered fraudulent application and housing benefit fraud. Five applications have been withdrawn, each of which had a potential discount of over £100k. Of the 31 applications investigated nine have completed the intended home ownership and have purchased their homes and 17 are still under investigation.”