Eleven properties have been recovered as a result of tenancy spot checks in Derry City.
The Housing Executive revealed the recoup of its stock in Derry after the first successful prosecution of a person in the north for subletting their HE property as part of a benefits scam. The man received a three-month suspended jail sentence.
HE staff said the homes recouped in Derry have now been re-allocated to tenants who were on the housing waiting list and deemed as being in real need.
Housing Executive staff said they are now actively carrying out no-warning checks to ensure that genuine tenants live in their properties.
Avril McAllister, Housing Executive Area Manager for West area, said: “We need the support of local residents. While some homes may appear unoccupied, for example the tenant may be in hospital, there are properties which are not being used or lived in.
“With over 21,000 on the social housing waiting list in urgent need of accommodation, it is very important we maximise the use of all our housing stock.”
The Area Manager added: “It’s in everybody’s interest to stop this happening. This could be stopping you or someone you know from getting a home. It could also be evidence that benefit fraud is being committed.
“If you suspect someone is a housing cheat, let us know, either online at www.nihe.gov.uk or by telephoning 03448 920 900. It could make a real difference. Anything you tell us will be held in the strictest confidence. You do not need to leave your name or details.
“We will investigate your concerns and the necessary action will be taken. Anyone caught committing fraud is likely to lose their tenancy and could also, in some cases, be disqualified from applying for social housing in the future. They could also be fined and possibly sent to prison. The Housing Executive will then also be able to make the property available to a family who need it most.”