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How to cope as the Airbnb sub-letting scandal escalates


As economic uncertainty bites, it’s not only letting agents who are feeling the financial pinch. Whether they are poorer due Universal Credit welfare reforms, have been put on zero hours contracts or just need extra cash, tenants are turning to Airbnb to make money from sub letting.

Do you have the time to keep checking whether your tenancies have been turned into holiday-let havens? Whether that’s physically visiting the property to look for tell-tale signs (more toothbrushes than tenants listed on the agreement and key safes, for example) or trawling holiday-let website to spot a property you may manage, sniffing out sub-letting takes time. However, it’s important you find the resources within your letting agency to stay on top of property checks.

Illegal sub-letting on the rise

An estimated 120,000 flats and houses in the UK illegally are sub-let through sites such as Airbnb. Figures from the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) also revealed 7% of its members have had properties unlawfully sub-let.

Daily Mail investigation found that one tenant alone was sub-letting 12 London properties via Airbnb which she didn’t own. The tenant in question was charging guests up to £600 a night in a bid to bankroll her five-star lifestyle. Worryingly, one landlord who was told about the ruse discovered £15,000 of damage in his property and it’s a story repeated across the country.

While it’s of small comfort to know authentic holidaymakers do sometimes move in, sadly Airbnb has developed a reputation as the perfect source for pop-up brothels, party houses and places for medical ‘tourists’ to stay as they recover from operations.

Tackling the scourge of sub-letting

There needs to be a greater emphasis on quality referencing, recouping damage costs and more frequent property inspections. Of course, all this must be delivered with the Tenant Fee Ban reducing an agent’s income. Thankfully there is a cost-effective solution to keeping up – outsourcing.

With ARPM, we can arrange as many inspections, inventories and reliable references as you need with our full management service. We can take care of your whole property portfolio for ultimate peace-of-mind, or just those in high-risk holiday-let areas. With maintenance included, we’ll also arrange any repair work quickly for those unfortunate sub-letting scenarios.

If you need advice on combating sub-letting, we can provide support services to letting agents who are losing the Airbnb battle. Contact us today.

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