Tenancy Fraud and Ground 17 Possession

Tenancy fraud is an issue for all social landlords. It has been estimated that more than 100,000 social housing properties in the UK are subject to some form of tenancy fraud (Protecting the Public Purse Report 2012).   

The recent case before Wolverhampton Crown Court shows the potential extent of the problem and highlights the seriousness in which the courts are tackling this issue.  

In this case, a social housing tenant failed to disclose that she owned a property in 3 consecutive applications to Dudley Borough Council. Her private property was being rented out whilst she stayed in social housing, which led to her being convicted of a tenancy fraud and sentenced to 32 months in prison.  

It has been estimated that this fraud cost the Local Authority just under £200,000, which includes the financial gain the tenant made as a result of the long-running fraud. The money is due to be recovered under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. 

If faced with tenancy fraud, the landlord is entitled to seek possession under Ground 17 Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988, giving at least two weeks’ notice.  

In practice, it means that court has a discretion to make an order for possession if the tenancy was granted by a false statement made knowingly or recklessly by the tenant, or a person acting at their instigation. It should be noted, however, that this ground can only be used against the original tenant, not a successor or an assignee. When deciding whether or not to grant possession, the court will consider the nature and degree of the false statements, i.e., blatant lies will likely sway the court to make a possession order.  

If you need housing management advice in relation to tenancy fraud, please don’t hesitate to contact Louise Murphy from our Social Housing team on louisemurphy@msbsolicitors.co.uk.  


Law is correct as at 24th February 2023 

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure that the law in this article is correct, it is intended to give a general overview of the law for educational purposes. You are respectfully reminded that it is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. No liability is accepted for any error or omission contained herein. 

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