By chance, a letting agent discovered that a tenant was subletting their rental home via Airbnb. Base Property Specialists, the agent, also found out that the home had received over 70 reviews on the short-stay portal since the tenancy began. The story has made waves across the industry and has been featured in a prime time television programme.
Neither the letting agent nor the landlord had a clue that the tenant was subletting the property, which was located in the Bloomsbury area of London, on a professional level. From their activity, the tenant left the letting agent out of pocket by £10,000.
The tenants were renting the property on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy basis, which was arranged by Base Property Specialists.
During a regular inspection, which was conducted with the consent of the tenants, the letting agent arrived early, only to witness a family being checked into the property by the tenant. When returning to their office, the letting agent browsed Airbnb, and found the property listed on the site as two separate bedrooms and also as a single dwelling. To conduct professional inventory reports and inspections, consider attaining an inventory base login, which can save your business both effort and time in managing property.
The agent also discovered that the rental property had over 70 guest reviews on the site, where the first coincided with the first month of the tenancy with the renter. This shows that the tenant had been subletting the home from the very beginning.
Base Property Specialists, therefore contacted the tenant to inform them that they were in breach of licensing laws and that they must remove all listings for the property from Airbnb, and other short-stay sites which they may be using. The agent also demanded that all bookings were cancelled, the key safe which they installed must be removed and any damage which had been caused must be made good.
The tenant was offered a choice of two options, to either surrender the tenancy under early termination agreement according to the contract, which was £4,295 in total or occupying the property again themselves.
However, despite the tenant requesting to stay at the property and repairing the damage and removing the house key safe, the letting agent continued to hear reports from neighbours that people were arriving and departing the property frequently. When Base Property arranged for a contractor to solve a maintenance issue at the property, he was informed by the occupants that a Russian family were renting the home.
Kristjan Byfield, from Base Property, commented on the case and stated how the property firm was extremely disappointed in the refusal of Airbnb to take action on the matter. After contacting the property portal and providing them with evidence that these hosts were in breach of the building insurance and mortgage terms of the landlord, as well as local short-term let and HMO licensing regulations, and were not the property’s legal owners, Airbnb’s response was for Base Property to confront the tenants themselves.
However, at this point, the tenant was refusing to speak with the letting agent and continued to use Airbnb to sublet the property. They also refused contractors access to the home, who were scheduled to fix a leak at the property. This caused further damage to the home.
Byfield then enlisted the help of Landlord Action, who issued possession proceedings by serving the tenant with a Section 8 notice. The organisation claim that unauthorised subletting of rental properties is becoming a growing issue across the country, with councils struggling to help with the sheer volume of cases. Landlord Action claims that they are constantly dealing with cases of subletting, and in particular, issues with tenants subletting on Airbnb without the landlord’s consent.
Base Property has called on Airbnb to make sure that it does more to prevent unauthorised hosts letting properties on its site.
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