7. Right to buy fraud
Right to buy fraud refers to any case where a tenant has applied for, or completed the purchase of a socially rented home under the right to buy scheme and has misrepresented their circumstances to either gain a discount they are not entitled to, or exercised the right to buy when they are not entitled to.
The most common examples are:
- Misrepresenting the length of tenancy in order to gain a greater discount
- Attempting to purchase a property whilst not using it as their sole or principal home
- Not disclosing previous rent arrears, possession orders, transfers or evictions
- Misrepresenting the household composition for example submitting a joint right to buy application with someone who does not reside at the property or has not done so for the required period.
The Audit Commission in ‘Protecting the Public Purse 2012’ highlighted that right to buy fraud was an emerging risk and significant area of potential financial loss for local authorities. The increased discounts introduced in 2012 and 2014 has resulted in an increase in the number of right to buy applications and subsequently the risk of right to buy fraud occurring.
With every application we carry out verification checks which include each applicant providing photographic identification (i.e. passport, photo card driving licence, armed forces ID card) and proof of address which must be no more than 3 months old and show name and current address (i.e. household utility bill, bank or credit card statement, tax document). The tenancy history and qualifying period are checked by the right to buy officer and the applicant is visited in their home by a technical officer.