Some 17 Housing Executive properties have been recovered in the Larne and Carrickfergus areas this year in a crackdown on tenancy fraud.
A new report shows that seven properties were in Larne and 10 in Carrickfergus.
A NIHE spokesperson indicated that a tenant has been successfully prosecuted after subletting his Housing Executive property as part of a benefits scam, receiving a three-month suspended jail term.
A statement from the Housing Executive read: “Housing Executive staff actively carry out checks to ensure that genuine tenants live in their properties. These checks are ongoing and can happen at any time during the person’s tenancy, without any warning.
“Our most recent Tenancy Fraud audit involved visits to over 2,800 tenants to confirm residency and we recovered 23 properties as a result of this audit across Northern Ireland.”
Mairead Myles Davey, Housing Executive area manager for East, added: “We need the support of local residents. While some homes may appear unoccupied, for example the tenant may be in hospital, there are properties which are not being used or lived in. With over 21,000 on the social housing waiting list in urgent need of accommodation, it is very important we maximise the use of all our housing stock.
“It’s in everybody’s interest to stop this happening. This could be stopping your someone you know from getting a home. It could also be evidence that benefit fraud is being committed.
“If you suspect someone is a housing cheat, let us know, either online at www.nihe.gov.uk or by telephoning 03448 920 900. It could make a real difference. Anything you tell us will be held in the strictest confidence. You do not need to leave your name or details.”
Ms Myles Davey added: “We will investigate your concerns and the necessary action will be taken. Anyone caught committing fraud is likely to lose their tenancy and could also, in some cases, be disqualified from applying for social housing in the future.
“They could also be fined and possibly sent to prison. The Housing Executive will then also be able to make the property available to a family who need it most.”