Airbnb Fined Record Amount
Posted on 28th August 2019
Ok, so that first sentence may be a little misleading! Particularly as Westminster Council did not actually know that the tenant was subletting the property!
MG Legal’s team of property law solicitors, had a quick glance at guide prices of properties for sale in Victoria, Central London finding guide prices ranging from £750,000.00 to £1,250,000.00 for 3 bedroom flats. Airbnb host, Tony Harman was advertising his cosy studio flat, featuring a hot tub for rent and he amassed over 300 online reviews before he was prosecuted by Westminster Council!
Mr Harman used the name “Lara” on his Airbnb account and when responding to correspondence about the flat however many on the online testimonials by people who had stayed at the flat referred to Mr Harman by his first name.
The council took him to court, Mr Harman appealed this but failed. Consequently, Mr Harman was evicted and ordered to pay back to the Council £100,974.00 in unlawful profits.
Andrew Smith, Westminster council’s cabinet member for housing services, said: “It’s illegal for council tenants to sub-let their homes and we carry out tenancy checks, as well as monitoring short-term letting websites for any potential illegal sublets. Along with a six-figure unlawful profit order, by getting a possession order, we can now reallocate the property to someone in genuine need of a home. We’re also pressing government to introduce a national registration scheme to make it far easier for us to take action against anyone who breaks the rules on short term letting. Last year, Westminster successfully recovered 24 social housing properties from fraudsters meaning they can now be allocated to residents in need of a new home.”
Westminster council has set up a housing standards task force to tackle rogue landlords and lettings as it investigates more than 1,500 cases over short-term rental issues. They have also proposed a system in which householders would be obliged to obtain a code before being able to list their property for rent online. The council has previously found it difficult to gather evidence to prove that landlords are breaking the government’s 90-night limit on short-term letting.
It is not just an issue for the UK however - last year in Paris a tenant who sub-let her Paris Flat was ordered to pay nearly £42,000.00 to her landlady!
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