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Trebling in volume of sub-letting through Airbnb and similar services

Specialist eviction firm Landlord Action claims that in the past 12 months the number of incidents where tenants have sub-let properties without landlord permission has trebled. 

It says that aside from any breach of tenancy agreement and additional wear and tear to the property, landlords may be in breach of their mortgage terms and buildings insurance.

It says online lettings systems such as Airbnb give tenants platforms to view themselves as businesses. The problem is due to be highlighted this evening on the Channel Five programme ‘Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords’ at 9pm.

The episode will show Joy Philips, a landlord who decided to let out her West London home so she could afford to take time out to volunteer at an orphanage in Africa. Joy thought she had found the perfect tenant in a young doctor who wanted her home for a three year lease. It all seemed promising until she started receiving emails and calls from her neighbours complaining about the volume of people coming and going at her house. 

Joy was shocked to discover that her house was not being used as a home for the young doctor, but being rented out room by room as a boutique hotel on the Airbnb website.  

Making thousands over the rent being paid to Joy, her tenant was breaking the no sub-letting clause in her contract. By having so many people in the house, Joy’s home insurance was also at risk of being void. Joy was forced to give up her volunteer work in Africa to return to the UK and call in Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action. 

“We have had concerns for some time now regarding the protection of properties which are being uploaded and offered as holiday lets via Airbnb. We continue to receive a growing number of instructions from landlords who want us to start possession proceedings against tenants who have sub-let their property via Airbnb without consent” claims Shamplina.

“Whilst Airbnb do provide a level of protection for hosts, naturally certain conditions and limitations do apply. My concern is that there is not enough safeguarding with regards to obtaining proof from the individual who is advertising the property that they are the legitimate owner. Or, if they are a tenant, that they have consent from their landlord to rent out the property in this way” he says.

Landlord Action claims to have attended cases where tenants were making thousands of pounds from exploiting the service to a high volume of holiday makers on a weekly basis. 

“In a recent case, it was thought that more than 300 people stayed in a landlord’s property in one year, unbeknown to the landlord. As well as damage to properties, landlords have received complaints from block managers with regards to being in breach of their head lease and unhappy neighbours in relation to anti-social behaviour, and that’s before considering issues regarding HMO licensing and possible invalidation of insurance and mortgage terms” says Shamplina.

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