Over the next year, all homes will be visited by a member of the Tenancy Audit and Enforcement team as part of the Council's tenancy audit. This is to establish that the property is not wholly let or sublet, and to ensure it is being looked after in accordance with the Tenancy Agreement.
You can find answers to frequently asked questions below.
1) What is a tenancy audit?
A Tenancy Audit is a survey, which involves a member of the Housing and Neighbourhood Services team visiting you in your home to complete a short questionnaire, and take down some details about you and your household. The Officer will ask to look around the property to establish that it is not wholly let or sublet, and to ensure that it is being looked after in accordance with your Tenancy Agreement.
The tenancy audit will do a number of things:
- Help with future planning of services that suits tenants needs
- Ensure that future services are planned and delivered with a focus on equality, diversity and good relations
- Identify any people who may need to be re-housed by showing up any over-crowing of properties or under-occupation such that we can better match size of property to size of family
- Uncover any fraud
- Sign-post people to other services that are available
- Identify any issues with the condition of the property
- Identify where sub-letting is taking place
2) What kind of information is being collected?
We will use a survey form to collect and record the following information:
- ID verification
- Demographic information (e.g. age, gender and ethnicity)
- Composition of your household
- Up to date contact details
- Income of your household, including any benefits such as universal credit
- Condition of the property
- Fire safety risks
3) Why are tenants asked to provide proof of identity?
When we visit we will ask you for proof of identity to guard against fraud, it will enable us to determine that the person who has the Tenancy Agreement is the person who is occupying the home. We will ask for two forms of identification, which must include one photographic form of ID. We will verify your ID using TrustID on mobile devices.
Identification suitable for this purpose could be:
- Utility bill
- Bank statement
- Birth certificate (for children)
- Driving License
- Official communication from Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) or another government body (in the past year)
As an additional check, you will also be asked to sign the completed tenancy audit survey, which will enable us to verify your signature against your Tenancy Agreement.
4) Will you let me know when I'm due for a tenancy audit?
We won't usually give notice for these appointments - tenancy audits are designed to be unannounced. If you're not in, we'll attend at another time, which can include evenings.
Your tenancy agreement states that we have the right to enter your home to carry out inspections, so if we do not gain access following a number of visits, we may begin legal action such as applying for a County Court injunction to enforce access.
5) How long will it take to audit all of the tenants?
This is a new function within the Housing and Neighbourhood Services Team and our long term plan is to have a rolling programme of tenant audits. However, we need to ensure that all tenancies have an initial audit which given staff resources should be complete by 2025. We will prioritise these initial audits based on identified risk factors.
Where possible audits will take place at the same time as other visits, e.g. fixed term tenancy reviews, to minimise disruption to tenants.
6) How is the tenants audit good value for money?
The tenancy audit is value for money because it helps to:
- Identify fraud - nationally public sector housing fraud costs the public purse approximately £20billion per annum
- Remove people who are dishonestly occupying council housing
- Help shorten waiting times for people who are on the council housing waiting list
- Make sure tenants are living in accommodation that is appropriate for their family size so ensuring that we make best use of our limited social housing stock
- Ensure homes are being maintained to help avoid costly repairs at the end of a tenancy
- Improve our service, based on your feedback
7) What to do if you suspect housing fraud?
Whilst undertaking tenancy audits will enable us to proactively identify potential fraud we also rely on tenants to report any suspected housing fraud to us. If you suspect housing fraud please contact:
Housing and Neighbourhood Services team
Tel: 01932 425881 (Kerrie Hearn, Audit and Enforcement Officer)
Tel: 01932 425819 (Jenny Tilling, Audit and Enforcement Manager)
Corporate Fraud Investigator
Tel: 01932 838383