Housing Department Hotline To Curb Vacant Properties Abuse
The Housing Department says it is aware that people are abusing the system by having Government rental accommodation which they either do not occupy at all or do not live in continuously.
The Housing Department says it only allocates homes to those who are eligible and are on the housing waiting list adding that tenants are required to occupy the homes allocated to them.
A statement continued: “Over the course of the last 12 months, the Housing Department has identified 11 flats that have not been occupied and of course have immediately taken steps to recover them.
“Many of these situations have been brought to the department’s attention from referrals by the members of the public or by estates tenants’ associations.
“Unfortunately the majority of the cases show that there are people who are using government flats as second homes while they live in Spain or elsewhere. Some tenants do not live there at all.
“The Government’s Housing Department has various mechanisms to spot check but it is also important to bear in mind that it holds a portfolio of almost 5,000 flats, which makes it impossible for the department to individually check if all flats are being occupied.
“The general public are therefore encouraged to report to the Housing Department if they suspect that Government tenancies are not occupied so that the Housing Deparment may check and investigate the situation. Calls can be anonymous and will be treated in the strictest confidence.
“Unfortunately there are many flats in post war estates that were sold under the policy of the previous administration and many of these lie empty. We have offered to buy these back but not everyone has availed themselves of this opportunity.
“There will also be flats that appear to be vacant because they are being refurbished, but the Department would still welcome all referrals so that each and every one can be verified.”
These reports can be made to the department anonymously in any of the following ways:
- by telephone and a dedicated line (answering machine): 200 40040
- Letter: Housing Department Unit 79-80 Harbours Walk, The New Harbours
Minister for Housing Samantha Sacramento said: “The general public are encouraged to contact the Housing Department if they believe that there is a government rental flat that is not being properly used or not being occupied by its tenant.
“The Department welcomes these reports which would allow them to either initiate, or in some cases continue to with their ongoing investigations.
“Our properties are in high demand by people who need a home and are patiently waiting on the waiting list and are therefore precious. It is unfortunate that such abuse exists by those who do not permanently live in the homes that they have been given and the Housing Department investigates every report made to them.
“This is not fair on others and I will not tolerate this abuse.”