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Domestic Abuse - Standing Together Against Violence
We believe our residents have the right to live free from violence.
Southway has signed up to a pledge to tackle domestic Abuse. The Make a Stand pledge has been launched by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) with the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) and Women’s Aid. The pledge means we have signed up to four commitments to provide support for people experiencing domestic abuse.
The four commitments are:
- Put in place a policy to support residents who are affected by domestic abuse
- Make information available about national and local domestic abuse support services on our website and in other appropriate places so that they are easily accessible to residents and staff.
- Put in place a Human Resource (HR) policy to support staff members who may be experiencing domestic abuse
- Appoint a Domestic Abuse Champion to offer advice and guidance to survivors of abuse and also offer advice and guidance to the organisation
Domestic Abuse support
Reports of Domestic Abuse that occur in a Southway property will be treated as a priority, and will be responded to within 24 hours.
If you need any help or support, please see the following which may help you:
24-hour National Domestic Violence Free phone Helpline - 0808 2000 247
The Helpline can give support, help and information over the telephone, wherever the caller might be in the country. The Helpline is staffed by fully trained female helpline support workers and volunteers. All calls are completely confidential. Translation facilities for callers whose first language is not English, and a service for callers who are deaf or hard of hearing are available.
Women’s Aid working in partnership with National Domestic Violence Service - 0808 2000 247 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Respect UK – Men’s Advice Line Freephone - 0808 801 0327 - Monday-Friday 9am-5pm
Greater Manchester Domestic abuse helpline - 0161 636 7525 Monday-Friday 10am–4pm excl. bank holidays - endthefear.co.uk
Use the Domestic Abuse Directory to find and access the support services near you: www.womensaid.org.uk/domestic-abuse-directory
Southway has handled a variety of cases of tenancy fraud. As it stands, we are currently working with Manchester City Council on 4 tenancy fraud cases, with another 2 cases under initial investigation.
The 5 types of Tenancy Fraud
There are 5 main types of tenancy fraud that we deal with:
The tenant lets out their Southway home without the landlord's knowledge or permission. This is often at a higher value than the rent that we charge to social tenants, which means that the tenant is making an unlawful profit under The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013.
Non-principal home ownership
The tenants moves out of the property and lives elsewhere, without telling the landlord.
The tenant does not meet the criteria to buy the property and provides false information on the application to do so.
This is when someone who is not entitled to take over (succeeds) the property/tenancy does so, eg. They may say that they were living with the original Southway tenant before they died, when in fact they were living elsewhere.
Obtaining a Southway home by deception
The customer provides false information on the housing application to better their chance of obtaining a Southway property.
Southway takes tenancy fraud very seriously and there are a variety of ways in which we deal with cases of fraud. Please see the 'What is Southway doing?' page to find out more information on how we handle cases of tenancy fraud.
What is Southway doing?
We take all reported tenancy fraud cases very seriously and record every case we handle and carry our thorough investigation.
What are we doing to tackle tenancy fraud?
During the application process, we analyse all supporting documentation that is submitted with your application to make ensure that those applying for a Southway property are providing the correct information.
We have also provided tenancy fraud training to the Community Services and Action Officers within our team at Southway.
Community Services Officers also carry out starter tenancy visits and regular tenancy audits to ensure that the people living at the property are the lawful tenants.
What happens if we come across a case of tenancy fraud?
If we find someone to be committing tenancy fraud, we gather together all of the evidence which is then passed on to our Tenancy Enforcement Team. This involves our Community Action Officers working closely with Manchester City Council. This may entail carrying out Interviews Under Caution, which can lead to prosecution.
For a successful prosecution, witnesses will be called to give evidence. Witnesses can wish to remain anonymous if requested, meaning that any information given to us is treated with the strictest of confidence.
The penalties for tenancy fraud currently includes up to two years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £50,000. The court will also have the power to make an Unlawful Profit Order that requires the tenant to pay back any profits the court considers appropriate.
We've come across a number of cases of tenancy fraud in Southway homes. Would you have recognised these as fraud?
Case Study 1:
A father, his son and his son’s girlfriend were applying for rehousing.
The father claimed that he and his son were sofa-surfing separately, and consequently got to the top of the queue for a 3-bedroom property.
The housing officer at the time had a hunch that they were being dishonest. This was because only the father ever came to view properties, and the son and his girlfriend were never present for any of the pre-tenancy affordability checks.
There were many conversations stating that he could be liable for the full rent of the property due to his son's undeclared income, and we emphasised that Southway can take action if any applicants falsify information.
As a result, the keys to the property were handed in 2 weeks later as the father confirmed the son and his girlfriend wanted to get their own place.
Case Study 2:
A son applied to succeed his deceased mother's property.
System checks showed that he was living with his 'then' wife at another of our properties.
At the court hearing, the court ruled in Southways favour and the property was recovered.
Case Study 3:
We received information stating that a Southway tenant was living elsewhere with her partner in a private property. At the same time, she was subletting the Southway home to someone else. The tenant unlawfully profited by charging a higher rent to the sub tenant.
However, we were alerted when the sub-tenant began to claim housing benefit and council tax support. The sub-tenant was interviewed under Section 9 of the Criminal Justice Act and asked to attend court.
The original tenant decided to terminate the tenancy rather than go to court as she could have lost her job at a local school.
As a result, the tenant was forced to vacate the property and the property was recovered.
- The 5 types of Tenancy Fraud
Southway has an ASB Service Improvement Group (SIG) who meet on a quarterly basis to discuss array of issues from feedback, neighbourhood issues, partnership working, performance. If you would like to get involved, please contact us via the contact us form and we will be in touch to advise you of the next meeting.