Social Housing and Cuckooing – what you need to know

What is cuckooing? 

Cuckooing is criminal gangs or individuals exploiting vulnerable people by taking over their homes.  Victims can be drug users or suffering addiction themselves, but may also be older people or those suffering from mental or physical health problems, which make them vulnerable to exploitation. 

Types of cuckooing include: 

  • Using the property to grow, deal, store or take drugs 
  • Using the property for sex work 
  • Using the property to store weapons 
  • Taking over the property as a place to live sometimes leaving the victim homeless 
  • Taking over the property to financially abuse the tenant 

What are the signs to look for? 

  • An increase in the number of people entering and leaving the property 
  • An increase in the number of cars or bikes visiting the property 
  • An increase in anti-social behaviour (ASB) 
  • People coming and going late at night 
  • Unusual fob activity 
  • Signs of drug use 
  • Curtains or blinds closed all the time 
  • External doors being propped open or damages 
  • Unknown people pressing buzzers to gain access to the building  
  • Disengagement with support services 
  • Access issues 

These may also be indicators of other support needs. 

What can be done? 

It is important to increase awareness of cuckooing in social housing so that staff, other residents and community groups spot the signs, to ensure that incidents are reported and investigated.  

Understanding and awareness can be enhanced by social media campaigns, education, posters or in person, at community events. Awareness should lead to effective action.   

Effective action starts with tenancy support and engagement. It is important to consider the needs of the tenant and to engage with the tenant, social services, the police and other support services to stop the cuckooing.   

If the tenant is at risk or is unwilling to engage, and the cuckooing continues and there is ongoing ASB, then social housing providers should consider an ASB injunction.   

An ASB injunction can be an effective way to stop and or prevent cuckooing. If the identity of the perpetrator is known, then an injunction can be sought to exclude them from the property or area. 

For more information or advice on how to tackle cuckooing please contact Amy Tagoe, Associate Solicitor at MSB. 

Contact us, we are here to help

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact Amy Tagoe at MSB.