A council has set up an anti-fraud tool to prevent social housing being illegally sub-let under the pretence of being private property.
Southwark Council has launched ilatch to help identify rogue landlords who profit from unlawfully sub-letting their council properties to unsuspecting tenants.
The website allows users to check a property’s number and postcode and see if it is council owned. If so, a report is immediately made to the council’s fraud team for further investigation.
The team has recovered more than 1,000 properties in the last three years using data matching technology and occupancy checks.
The crime currently costs the council thousands of pounds a year and puts renters at risk of possible eviction, if their property is found to belong to the council. Illegal sub-letting also reduces the number of council homes going to genuine applicants, the authority says.
Now Southwark hopes to expand its database from handling only council housing stock to also including housing association and letting agency data.
Lee Whitelock of letting agency Garrett Whitelock says: ”The growing demand for housing presents opportunities for unscrupulous landlords to exploit renters. With ilatch we can now take proactive steps to weed out these fraudsters and work with responsible landlords to provide quality homes to renters.”
The website is here.