InSight Case Study: Gloucester City Homes

Eradicating tenancy fraud

By utilising TAIM InSight to support its sustained tenancy programme, which aims to keep rightful tenants in their homes, Gloucester City Homes is able to run long term affordability checks on tenants to ensure that a property is financially viable for them.

 

Background

In only it’s fourth year of operation, Gloucester City Homes (GCH) is an independent social landlord that owns approx. 4,500 rented homes for more than 5,000 tenants as well as managing leasehold and shared ownership homes, commercial units and homeless hostels. GCH is using Housing Partners’ Insight software to identify and prevent tenancy fraud to free up homes and secure income.

At a glance

2018/19 performance

Stock: 4,490 homes

Turnover: £22m

Re-investment: 31% (£66m)

New homes: 1.76%

Planned homes: 3,915

Arrears: 4.3%

The challenge

Tenancy fraud is an issue for housing associations across the UK, one that is costing them in a number of ways. Unlawful tenants are blocking access to housing from those in genuine need, many of which are being forced into temporary accommodation, at the provider’s expense. The average cost of temporary accommodation is £18,000 a year. Local councils have spent £3.5bn on temporary housing over the last five years (BBC).

Forms of Tenancy Fraud

Illegal sub-letting
Key selling
Abandonment of property
Housing by deception
Wrongly claimed succession

The solution

GCH implemented Insight in October 2016, after realising the need for a comprehensive tool that would allow a unified response to tenancy fraud alongside other valuable customer insight. Prior to implementing Insight, GCH were using a combination of sources to identify and prevent fraud. Manually collating data to spot potential cases, they would consider things such as long periods of time without a repair reported or continued no access for mandatory obligations such a gas checks. Although this approach is still taken alongside the use of Insight, the method did not always identify fraud.

The benefits

“As well as combatting tenancy fraud, we’re using Insight to secure important income. We can see which tenants are paying utility bills via direct debit and offer them the choice of paying their rent this way too. Direct debit means we don’t have to chase tenants for rent by phoning or visiting them in person, which saves GCH money and time. It offers us greater security.”

“With Insight, we’ve been able to set pointers for tenancy fraud, instead of conducting batch credit checks and manually collating them with other sources, which was time and resource demanding.”

“It’s now easier to really get to know our tenants. We can identify who needs our help with financial vulnerability or debt, and spot those that are potentially committing criminal offences.”

Key deliverables

See tenant direct debit usage and offer the service
Provides more timely service delivery to tenants
Improved service by reduced repeat working
Run long term affordability checks for tenants
Supporting their sustained tenancies programme

Outcomes

GCH has experienced significant improvements to its working since implementing Insight, and continues to discover new benefits. With an enhanced understanding of their customers, GCH is able to spot households in need of support and offer targeted advice as well as spotting fraud faster; “Insight has alerted us to 70 potential fraud alerts. From these, GCH is currently considering proceeding with two criminal convictions, both of which are sub-letting cases. In one, we have strong evidence of unlawful profit being made. Both properties have now been returned to us”, she continues, “These two cases are examples of serious tenancy fraud, which cost both GCH and our tenants. The first case indicated that the tenant had been illegally subletting the property for up to eight and a half years. If these unlawfully occupied properties had been subject to right to buy we could have transferred savings to GCH tenants in the form of discounts, and opened up homes to those most in need.”

By utilising Insight to support its sustained tenancy programme, which aims to keep rightful tenants in their homes, GCH is able to run long term affordability checks on tenants to ensure that a property is financially viable for them.

The future

Sarah Hendry, ASB Manager – including tenancy fraud, is using InSight to help future detection of fraud; “Tenancy fraud is a recognised problem at our organisation, and an ongoing one in housing. We’re doing more to educate tenants and staff on the issue and how to spot it. We’ve conducted in-house training sessions for staff and contractors, hosted a key amnesty and other awareness events for residents and distributed questionnaires designed to promote a greater understanding of tenancy fraud.”

Make the difference

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