Westminster City Council took exception to one of their tenants letting out his studio apartment in central London to Airbnb tourists – from whom he regularly received rental income. Tenancy agreements with the council expressly forbid any type of sub-letting, so the council initiated proceedings against the tenant, who was fined the substantial penalty of £100,974.
To make matters worse, the tenant seemed to have been aware that he was in breach of his tenancy agreement since he registered his apartment with Airbnb fraudulently using a false name.
In this instance, it was Airbnb itself that also discovered the fraud. They removed the council tenant’s listing on its website in accordance with an agreement it has with London councils to ensure that local rules on the letting of subsidised council properties are respected in a fair and equal way.
Describing the tenant’s long-standing income from Airbnb guests as “illicit profits”, the tenant was evicted, and his home made available to others on the Council’s waiting list.
Westminster City Council revealed that it is currently investigating some 1,500 short-term lets of its properties by potentially dishonest tenants, depriving others in greater need of public housing.
Both private and social housing tenants should note that where there is any such blatant disregard for the terms of your tenancy agreement, any home insurance is likely to be invalidated too.