Airbnb Guests at Risk From Illegal Subletting

Airbnb Guests at Risk From Illegal Subletting

Abigail Staniforth
4th May 2018

Last month, we reported that a tenant has been caught subletting their rental property in Swansea on Airbnb without the landlord’s knowledge or permission.

Whilst it might seem like a lucrative way of making use of space you aren’t using, there are many legalities you need to consider before putting your house or your spare room up for rent on sites such as Airbnb. Rental properties should not be sublet without the expressed permission of the landlord and in many cases, assured shorthold tenancy agreements (ASTs) prohibit subletting anyway.

Airbnb Lukewarm to Landlords’ Concerns

Despite requests from the landlord and McCartan, Airbnb has not taken the advert down. Though the tenant in question is clearly in breach of Airbnb’s own terms and conditions (on top of everything else), Airbnb’s response to the situation has been decidedly lukewarm.

Specialist serviced accommodation company Leucarum Properties based in Swansea, advertises their properties on Airbnb (amongst other such sites).

Managing Director of Leucarum Louisa Lorey comments, “The Airbnb trend is proving tough competition to the hotel sector, and is very accessible to anyone wanting to make an extra buck out of their property.

Unfortunately, due to this, operators often ignore the legalities. Insurances differ from the norm, leases on larger blocks of apartments are not taken into consideration, and operating with incorrect mortgage products put the property at risk of being repossessed.

“Airbnb is a fantastic concept and model which should be taken seriously and with a professional approach. While we see this as our business, other more casual Airbnb members see it as just extra income stream.”

As McCartan are to the residential lettings market in Swansea, the team at Leucarum are to the serviced accommodation sector; their staff have attended thorough training to fully understand all of the legalities involved in short term lets, and regularly network with some of the UK’s largest and most established serviced accommodation operators.

Duty of Care to Guests

It’s important that guests who have paid money and chosen an Airbnb property are taken care of – not just from a hospitality point of view, but also in terms of health and safety. The words “health and safety” often trigger eye-rolls, but a landlord has a duty of care to their tenants that needs to be taken very seriously. That doesn’t change with Airbnb tenants.

“An unpleasant thought,” Louisa comments, “but how many people who have put their property or spare room on Airbnb have thought of the implications should there be a fire, or if a guest injures themselves?

We’ve been hearing more and more cases recently like this one where tenants are taking it upon themselves to sublet the property they are renting whilst the landlord is unaware. This is unethical, not to mention illegal and potentially disastrous.

It’s evitable that further regulation will be put in place to ensure that ‘chancers’ within this emerging market will not be able to operate.”

Hannah McCartan MD McCartan Lettings comments ‘Landlords need to stay vigilant about this increasingly popular trend that could put them and their properties at great risk. Regular property visits are a great way of putting tenants off from sub-letting.’

Interestingly, the BBC have published an article since we spoke with Leucarum Properties echoing Louisa’s fears. Tourism industry leaders are concerned that a “Grenfell-style incident” could occur if short term let properties are inspected frequently, and some MPs have called for the creation of a short term let register. You can read the article in full by clicking here.

International Implications

Last month, Airbnb reported  a 52% loss of listings in their hometown of San Francisco, USA, due to a tightening on regulations surrounding short term lets in the city. Reuters are this month reporting that a court in Singapore has fined two Airbnb hosts a total of S$60,000 each for subletting without permission. You can read the full article by clicking here.

If you are concerned your tenant may be subletting your rental property , or would like some more information about the legal differences between long term and short term lets, please give the team at McCartan a call on 01792 430100, or send us an email by clicking here.

If you are interested in letting your property on a short term or serviced accommodation basis, you can visit Leucarum Properties’ website by clicking here.

Sources: Leucarum Properties / Reuters

Related: Online Fraud Targeting Tenants on the Rise in Swansea / McCartan on Swansea Bay TV


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