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Tenancy Fraud

What is tenancy fraud?

The main type of tenancy fraud is where the tenant of an Orbit home sublets all or part of their home to a non-Orbit tenant so that they can make extra money illegally.

This is a problem because it reduces the number of homes available for people who really need an affordable home. It’s not fair and it’s illegal, and we’re working hard to prevent it. You can help too, by reporting anything you might see as suspicious. Simply complete our handy report form and we’ll investigate.

Tenancyfraud Smallest

There are a number of other types of tenancy fraud that are less known to members of the public and therefore these are listed below with further detail.

What are the impacts of tenancy fraud?

Tenancy fraud has an impact on all of us. Most importantly, it limits the number of affordable homes that are available for people really who need them. There are other effects too. There can be an increase in anti-social behaviour in communities where homes are sublet or not occupied by the people they are meant to be and this can result in neighbourhoods that are not as safe as they could be. For Orbit, there is an increased risk of damage to our properties and rent loss. This means we have to spend more money repairing homes and less on investing in community projects.

Nationally, it is estimated that at least 4% or 100,000 housing association homes are affected by some form of tenancy fraud. This impacts on those people on the waiting lists, in temporary accommodation or looking to transfer to a more suitable home. The costs of tenancy fraud also impact on other government services such as the NHS and emergency services.

How can you help?

Be aware

Do you know your neighbours and who the tenant should be in their homes?
Has there been a change of occupants at a neighbouring property?
Do you notice any unusual activity from neighbouring properties?
Have you overheard any mention of the property being sublet?
Does the neighbouring property appear not to be lived in?

Report it

If you suspect tenancy fraud you can report this to us following this link

Your information will be dealt with in the strictest confidence. By providing your details, we can better tackle the tenancy fraud by contacting you for further information where required, as well as keeping you informed of progress of the investigation. We will not use your details without your consent and there would be no pressure for you to be a court witness. In any case, with your assistance and full evidence, we would hope to successfully deal with the matter without the need for any legal action. If you choose NOT to give your details, this can hinder any investigation into the reports that you have made, the case could be given limited priority and the fraud could go undetected.

There are different types of tenancy fraud:


Subletting is where an Orbit tenant sublets their Orbit home, usually for financial gain. An example of this can be where an Orbit tenant moves out and doesn’t tell us. They could charge rent to a non-Orbit tenant at £800 per month whilst the rent they pay Orbit is £450 per month. The Orbit tenant may also be claiming Housing Benefit, so they can profit by £800 per month in this scenario.


Non-occupation is where an Orbit tenant is not using their Orbit home as their main home. For example, the tenant could live somewhere else and use the Orbit property for a business or unlawful purposes. This could also include abandonment.  

Unlawful assignment

Unlawful assignment is when an Orbit tenant doesn’t use their Orbit home as their main residence and allows someone else to live in the home without Orbit’s permission. This can happen when an Orbit tenant moves out and allows a family member or friend to move in without Orbit’s permission. This is ‘queue jumping’ and the people moving into the home may not even be eligible for a home with Orbit.

Key selling

Key selling is when an Orbit tenant sells the keys to their Orbit home and moves away without informing Orbit. An example of this is when a tenant leaves the country and then sells the keys to someone else.

False housing application

A false housing application happens when a person applies for an Orbit home and knowingly fails to give incomplete or false information that leads to them being let an Orbit home when they wouldn’t have qualified normally.  For example, we have had someone apply as a homeless single person due to a relationship breakdown, yet the relationship has not ended and once the Orbit tenant has moved in, the partner moves into the home with the Orbit tenant. 

False succession

False succession is when a person applying for an Orbit home and knowingly fails to give incomplete or false information that leads to Orbit to allow a family member to live in an Orbit home when the main tenant passes away, and the family member is not eligible. This can also apply to assignment applications, mutual exchanges and other transfers of tenancy. An example of this is when someone provides false information to give Orbit the impression they have lived in the property for the required period leading to the succession, having in fact lived somewhere else.

Right to Buy (RTB) and Right to Acquire (RTA) fraud

Right to Buy (RTB) and Right to Acquire (RTA) fraud is when an Orbit tenant has applied to purchase or has purchased an Orbit home through the Government’s Right to Buy or Right to Acquire schemes when they have either misrepresented their circumstances or are not entitled to purchase the home.

Examples of this include; misrepresenting the length of tenancy to obtain a greater discount, concealing a tenancy history and not disclosing previous rent arrears, possession orders, transfers or evictions, trying to purchase a property whilst not using it as their main home or not telling the truth about about their household and circumstances

Tenancy fraud versus Benefit fraud

Is it tenancy fraud or benefit fraud? If you suspect the person whom holds the tenancy is not living in the home, this should be reported as a tenancy fraud. If you are certain that the person that holds the tenancy is living in the home, but has other persons living at the address you believe have not been declared, this should be reported to your local Benefit fraud team. Their contact details can be found by searching their post code on the following link. If you’re just not sure, report it to us and we can advise you.

Did you know?

  • Tenancy fraud costs £2 billion to taxpayers each year
  • Subletting is a criminal offence and those found guilty can face up to two years in prison and/or a £5,000 fine
  • It costs about £18,000 a year to keep a family in temporary accommodation
  • 103 Orbit homes recovered from August 2013 to January 2016. 98 of them were recovered with no legal action, saving potentially £1 million in legal costs
  • Six housing nominations to Orbit were refused due to fraud between July 2014 and January 2016
  • £582,000 in Right To Buy discounts stopped due to fraudulent applications (August 2013 to January 2016)
  • £42,000 in home loss payments were stopped at Erith Park in Bexley, South London due to tenancy fraud
  • 14 anti-social behaviour cases resolved by tackling tenancy fraud between July 2013 and January 2016
  • 360 tenancy fraud cases were referred by Orbit customers and Orbit staff between August 2013 and January 2016.