The Housing Executive has confirmed it has carried out over 70 tenancy fraud investigations in Derry over the past year.
A total of 16 properties have been recovered as a result of the 76 investigations conducted across the city during the year from April 2016 to the end of March 2017.
The figures were obtained by the ‘Journal’ after the Housing Executive earlier this week announced an amnesty for fraudsters during the month of May as long as they hand their keys back.
The majority of the fraud investigations were conducted in the Waterside area of Derry last year. As a result of 42 probes launched, seven properties were recovered on Derry’s east bank.
A further 19 cases were investigated in the area covered by the HE’s Collon Terrace office, with six homes recovered, while another 15 were conducted from the Waterloo office of the Housing Executive in the city centre, with three properties recovered.
A spokesperson for the Housing Executive said: “In the year 2015/16, in keeping with PAC recommendations, the NIHE established an evidenced based baseline figure for the level of tenancy fraud within NIHE stock.
“The baseline figure was calculated as 0.6%; incorporating a 95% tolerance, this means that tenancy fraud levels would range between 0.12% and 1.08% of NIHE stock.
“The 2016/17 baselining exercise is not yet complete (two cases remain under investigation)but indications are that the baseline level of tenancy fraud will be in keeping with the range identified in previous audits.”
Tenancy fraud includes not occupying a home, providing false or incomplete information on housing or homeless, and sub-letting your home without permission. The Housing Executive warned that tenancy fraud was unfairly depriving people on the Social Housing Waiting List.
By the start of 2017 there were almost 3,500 families or single applicants in Derry waiting to be housed.