Airbnb is a phenomenon of our age and, in January of this year, it was reported that over 4million people in London had used the service since launch in 2008. As the go-to website – or app – for a host of travellers, Airbnb provides a convenient solution for those seeking an alternative to a traditional hotel room.
In recent years, its ease of use has seen Airbnb broaden its reach beyond the hospitality sector and into the lettings market, and while this might seem like an optimum solution for short-term tenancies, it is also proving to be a challenge that the industry is yet to navigate.
A primary hurdle that has arisen for landlords is around subletting, and a growing number of landlords are launching possession proceedings against tenants who have sublet their property via sites such as Airbnb, without the requisite permissions. Tenants who do this without consent risk eviction for a breach of their assured shorthold tenancy agreement – but for some, this is a risk they are willing to take.
At the same time, if the rent is paid in full and on time, some landlords might be inclined to turn a blind eye to the practice. However, it is worth remembering that while it is an ARLA Property mark standard to vet tenants at the start of a contract with full references and credit checks, tenants are unlikely to do this on behalf of landlords for subtenants, creating risks for all parties.
Furthermore, while the tenant signing the contract might show up well on paper, they could be subletting to just about anybody, with no verification of their credentials whatsoever.
It goes without saying that in not knowing who precisely is occupying a property can be disastrous for landlords, with unpaid rent, bills and damage to a property.
As such, we do urge landlords to ensure that they enter into an up-to-date contract with their tenants, which legislates against subletting under any circumstances. This is a clause inbuilt to every Carter Jonas contract, but for independent landlords who operate without an agency, it is worth checking the wording of all tenancy agreements.