Cross-checking details sparked investigations into tenants
Wandsworth council recovered 44 rental properties last year from people who had no right to be living in them.
Staff in the housing department, working with the town hall's internal audit team, took back the 44 council flats and houses after establishing that the occupants were not entitled to be there.
Some of the properties had been sub-let by their tenants to other people in return for cash, while other cases involved tenants "passing on" the properties to friends or relatives without permission.
In all the cases the homes were being occupied by people who had no right to be benefitting from subsidised accommodation.
The internal audit team's primary role is to make sure that public money and resources are not ripped off. Their job is to ensure that every penny of taxpayers' money spent by the council is properly accounted for and that people do not receive public services and benefits if not entitled to them.
Cabinet member for housing Cllr Paul Ellis said: "I am delighted that the joint hard work of the council's housing department and the audit team has led to the recovery of these 44 properties. The keys to these homes can now be handed over to families who genuinely need them.
"Council housing is there to support families in genuine need. People who sublet them to line their own pockets and those who think they are entitled to pass the keys on to friends or relatives in some kind of private arrangement are depriving homeless families of a roof over their heads.
"Anyone who thinks they are going to get away with abusing the system needs to think again. The council carries out very stringent checks on tenants long after they have been given the keys to make sure they remain entitled to housing support.
"We cross-check many different types of information with our own records and also with those held by other local authorities, housing associations, schools and a whole range of other public bodies. If the information doesn't tally then that will spark an immediate investigation.
"We also receive a steady stream of tip-offs about bogus tenants and illegal sub-lets from neighbours who are rightly outraged that someone is trying to cash in on these scarce and valuable public resources."
October 16, 2012