More and more tenants are subletting rental properties on peer-to-peer websites such as Airbnb, according to an eviction specialist.
Landlord Action says that the number of Airbnb subletting cases it has received has trebled over the past 12 months.
Airbnb, and similar web platforms, allow homeowners to let individual rooms or the whole property to visitors on a nightly basis.
But most landlords in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will ban subletting via a clause in the tenancy agreement. Those landlords that fall victim to tenants using their property to host Airbnb guests could be in breach of their mortgage terms and buildings insurance.
The problem is due to be highlighted by one landlord’s ordeal on the Channel Five programme ‘Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords’ tonight (Wednesday 20 April) 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.
Philips thought she had found the perfect tenant in a young doctor who wanted her home on a three-year lease. It all seemed very promising until she started receiving emails and calls from her neighbours complaining about the volume of people coming and going at her house.
Philips 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 Philips, the tenant was breaking the no subletting clause in her contract. By having so many people in the house, Philips’ home insurance was also at risk of being void.
Philips was forced to give up her volunteer work in Africa to return to the UK and call in eviction specialist Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action, in the hope of getting her property back.
“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 sublet their property via Airbnb without consent,” said 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.
“We have seen cases where, quite clearly, tenants are making thousands of pounds from exploiting the service to a high volume of holidaymakers 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.
“This is a growing trend which needs to be stamped out as soon as possible. It’s extremely important that if landlords start to receive complaints, especially if they have never had any such trouble in the past, that they carry out an inspection of the property to ensure it is not being used in this way without permission.”