Advice – Tenants subletting on AirBnB

by Readers Question

10:39 AM, 9th August 2017
About A year ago

Advice – Tenants subletting on AirBnB

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Advice – Tenants subletting on AirBnB

It appears I had a tenant subletting my property for bed and breakfast on AirBnB.

I recently had a battle to evict a tenant that ran the duration right up until bailiff attendance. The property was let through a letting agent. The story was that the guy was splitting from his wife and leaving the marital home (owned) and needed a place fairly local. He rented a 4 bed from me so that his children would be able to stay over. The guy produced bank statements showing 70+k in his account as he was a self-employed tree surgeon and his books didn’t reflect his earnings accurately. All other references checked out.

I got a bit uncomfortable during the stage when negotiating the initial AST rent, he seemed quite aggressive. I got even more worried when he failed to attend the agent’s office to collect the keys but made some excuse and asked if he could collect them from us after hours. A car with 4 Chinese people turned up on our doorstep at gone 8.30 pm asking for the keys. On calling the letting agent on his mobile he explained it away as his wife collecting the keys for him.

Later, after the initial 12 months the agent broached the matter of a rent review which was met with fierce resistance, so advised the agent I wasn’t comfortable with his general attitude and to serve a S21. The minute this was done he phoned the branch manager and was arguing aggressively; during that conversation he completely changed tac. He immediately revealed his knowledge about eviction procedure and told the agent he wasn’t moving out without bailiffs. No further rent was received from then on, it turned out he had never changed the bills into his name, he was switched to a key meter 3 months before final eviction but had never topped up (later found the electric bypassed), socket faces removed and extension leads hard-wired in etc. etc.

The long and the short is that he owed far more than the deposit covered in arrears, costs and damages. Fortunately I had rent guarantee insurance to mitigate the arrears but am having to go through Small Claims Court for the rest.

After bringing the property back up to standard, we secured a new tenant and the property is let once again.

Tonight we received a message from the tenant stating that someone had turned up on the doorstep claiming to have booked bed and breakfast and got very grumpy when turned away, claiming that he had stayed there before.

With this knowledge I Googled bed and breakfast in Basingstoke; AirBnB popped up, so I zoomed in on the map and low and behold there was a room advertised for £27 a night right where my property would be. The description made note that the address had changed. There was even mention of the tenant in the feedback comments, so I opened up the cached pages and there it was, my property address was actually mentioned in the advert. From reading the comments it appears that the pair of them are doing this across a number of properties in the south and London.

What should I do? Involve the Housing Officer at the Council? Is there legal action that I can take? Is Police intervention required? Should I involve Inland Revenue? Is there any action I can take via Small Claims Court?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you
André



Comments

Neil Patterson

10:43 AM, 9th August 2017
About A year ago

Hi Andre,
One of the most important things to check out first is your Landlords Insurance as you may not be covered if it is discovered to be run as an AirBnB.
Please also see our tenant eviction page >> https://www.property118.com/legal-advice-for-landlords/evicting-tenants/

Andre Gysler

10:59 AM, 9th August 2017
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Neil Patterson at 09/08/2017 - 10:43
Thanks, but we successfully evicted this tenant in February this year. He is now doing the same at another property that belongs to someone else.

André

Rob Crawford

12:56 PM, 9th August 2017
About A year ago

Hi Andre', the first thing to do is call AirB&B and get your property removed from their website. The Council PRS team will be interested in your experience. I doubt the police will resource an investigation. Please make sure his details are listed on Tenant ID and Tenant Referencing as a rogue tenant.

Andre Gysler

13:17 PM, 9th August 2017
About A year ago

I contacted the Council who didn't seem too interested other than making it the new LL's problem by getting the new LL to take action. They weren't even interested from an H & S perspective. My property only comes up in the cached pages now.

How do I list them under Tenant ID and Tenant Referencing as a rogue tenant?

Thanks

Rob Crawford

19:51 PM, 9th August 2017
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Andre Gysler at 09/08/2017 - 13:17Contact details, a friendly bunch: http://www.landlordreferencing.co.uk/contact-us/

Darren Peters

13:04 PM, 10th August 2017
About A year ago

For about £3 you can do a land reg search on the owner of the new property address(es) that you are aware of and write to that owner telling them about their tenant. Can't do any harm to tell AirBnb though I suspect their business would collapse if all the illegally sublet properties were removed.

I'm sure HMRC could quickly check whether his tax return tallies with the AirBnB rents charged.

Also you could get in touch with utility companies making them aware of what has happened.

In all cases, don't leave yourself open to libel, just state facts.

"While a tenant of mine Mr X didn't inform the utility company and didn't pay for utilities"

Finally, where you say, "I got a bit uncomfortable during the stage when negotiating the initial AST rent, he seemed quite aggressive."

If you get that feeling again, reject the tenant. In fact, err on the side of slight paranoia. We always do a head and heart check on tenants, the 'head' is the referencing company and the heart is the feeling we get about prospective tenants. It's much easier to have a 5 minute uncomfortable conversation with a rejected tenant to whom you owe no explanation than to be stuck in a contract with a bad tenant. Even if you're about to sign, all the references check out and at the 11th hour something happens that makes you uncomfortable, don't sign.


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