The Fraudster & The Sofa Surfer
Rooftop Housing deals with all sorts of issues that go along with being a landlord, some of them are easily solved, others are more complex.
Take Tenancy Fraud for example, there’s a lot of time and intricate work involved in tackling the problem. However, once the fraud has been dealt with there are some really positive outcomes.
Our Tenancy Fraud and Enforcement officer recently helped a young man find his first home, and this is their story in their own words (the tenant involved wished to remain anonymous)
“I’m Terry Shutt Tenancy Fraud and Enforcement Officer. Part of that work requires me to investigate when people are living in properties where they are committing tenancy fraud.
One particular example of that, we identified a situation where a flat had been given over to a man who was dealing drugs from the premises. We investigated the anti social behaviour attached to the drug dealing and then the tenancy fraud. As a result we took the property back and recirculated it into the stock, it was then allocated to a young individual who’d been sofa surfing for approximately 11 months.
We’re not just interested in getting back bricks an mortar, we’re actually interested in getting back homes for people… we deal with social housing need not social housing want; so we try to get the right people in the right places and make effective use of the housing stock… It’s a people business, we’re here because of that, getting the right people in the right houses…
Tenancy fraud is a criminal offence, and not only that, this individual was dealing drugs from the property which was causing other problems for the surrounding area. We managed to kill two birds with one stone, we eliminated the tenancy fraud aspect and also cleared that area of a very active drug dealer, AND provided a home for a young man who’d been homeless for 11 months.
It’s been a really positive experience, and then having met the individual… because I deal with the individuals committing the frauds but I tend not to see the individuals who move back into the properties… there was quite a buzz from that, it was good… a good positive feeling.”
So how did it affect the tenant who’s now in the flat?
“I was living with my auntie and it was an over crowded environment, there were, like, seven of us living in the same house. She said that I wouldn’t be able to stay there because it was too over crowded. So I was on the housing list for ages trying to get somewhere to go… and I ended up getting my own place and I moved into there, but it was really bad before that; my auntie was struggling to feed me as well as everybody else… there were too many of us, and because of the overcrowding they had to get me a place as quick as possible.
It feels a lot better now that I’ve got my own place. I’ve got my own freedom… it’s my own rules… yes it is hard but, it’s my own rules as well… It’s not easy living on your own; you’ve got all the things to pay by yourself, but, it is a lot better knowing you have got your own place that you can manage, you haven’t got to worry about other people doing things for you because you can now do it yourself.
My auntie helps with everything but I know everything’s easier for her because she hasn’t got to worry about all my issues as well… but she is still there to help me when I need help.
It was really exciting actually, it’s new, and this is where I’m going to live and you get to choose what you’re going to do with it, and how you’re going to decorate it. As you walk through it’s like ‘yes this is the beginning of your own new life’.
You’re not a kid no more you’ve got to do things for yourself… adulthood instead of being a child and adulthood is a lot harder than being a child and that’s what half of the people these days need to understand; growing up isn’t an easy sort of thing. When you live with mum and dad it’s easy, everything’s sort of done for you, but when you live on your own it’s not as easy as that no more. You can still have a laugh and see your friends but when it comes down to it you’ve got to be a grownup as well, because if you’re not you’re going to lose everything if you’re not careful.
…I had to grow up because if you live by yourself you’ve got to grow up. You can’t be a kid no more, things aren’t easy… you don’t get pocket money and all that, you get money as and when it’s paid to you and if you don’t manage that money correctly you’re not going to pay your bills, you’re not going to stay where you are because you can’t manage things.
I don’t want to go back, but I’m glad I’ve got people who can help me when they can, but I wouldn’t want to go back… it took me so long to get to where I am now I wouldn’t want to go back to square one… It’d be annoying to have to do it all over again!
Loads of people that are older than me don’t understand, people that have their own places, that are at college, think it’s easy. They think it’s all great, and when people visit me they’re like “oh yeh, everything’s going well here” but they don’t understand the struggles, managing your own money, the bills, then what you’ve got left then you can use it on you!...
My advice? Don’t mess it up, know what you’re doing…I’m hopeful for the future, I’ve had a few issues along the way but I should be able to sort them out… if I put my head down, I’ll sort them out…”