Unlawful occupation or tenancy fraud

It’s a priority for us to make sure our homes are let fairly to those people who need them.

If one of our residents commits tenancy fraud it prevents us offering the home to those most in need. We take any form of unlawful occupation like this very seriously.

What’s unlawful occupation or tenancy fraud?

There are many types of tenancy fraud, including: 

  • Giving false or misleading information when applying for a home, such as false names, using forged documents or lying about your need for housing. 
  • Illegally subletting all or part of their home – this is different to taking in a lodger. 
  • A tenant moves out of their home and lets someone else live there. 
  • A tenant doesn’t live in their home as their only or main home. 
  • Someone new takes on the home when a tenant dies, without our permission. 
  • A tenant lies or gives misleading information so that someone can become a joint tenant. 
  • A tenant exchanges their home with someone else without telling us and/or before we have agreed that the exchange can take place. 
  • A tenant lies or gives false information when applying to buy their home. 

What does Sovereign do to prevent unlawful occupation or tenancy fraud? 

We carry out a number of checks before and during a tenancy to make sure we pick up any cases of unlawful occupation as quickly as possible. These are:

  • Checking the identity of any new residents.  
  • Taking photographs of all our tenants, which will be kept on record until the tenancy ends. 
  • Using information to check residents’ identities, when we’re speaking on the phone or face-to-face. 
  • Investigating any reports  of unlawful occupation. 

What should I do if I think someone is unlawfully occupying their home or committing tenancy fraud?

If you think the person living in a home isn't the tenant, please contact us. We’ll treat all reports of unlawful occupation as confidential.

What happens if Sovereign suspects unlawful occupation or tenancy fraud?

If we identify or receive information that suggests someone is unlawfully occupying one of our homes, we’ll write to the tenant and arrange a home visit. If we’re not satisfied that the occupant is the registered tenant, we’ll continue to investigate.

What happens if Sovereign confirms unlawful occupation or tenancy fraud?

Unlawful occupation is a criminal offence and, if confirmed, will result in legal action to bring the tenancy to an end. The tenant may also receive a court imposed fine (including the loss of any profit made through subletting).

We’ll pass on this information to any relevant authority or organisation, which may include local authorities, social services and the Department for Work and Pensions, who may carry out prosecutions.

I was unlawfully occupying my home and didn’t know – what should I do?

If you were unknowingly renting a Sovereign home from one of our tenants please contact us, we’ll do our best to signpost you to agencies that can support you and help you find new housing. 

More information

Please contact us if you need more support or information.