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‘Airbnb doesn’t care about illegal sub-letting’ claims leading agent

Base Property boss Kristjan Byfield says he's 'extremely disappointed' by response of Airbnb after he told the company about illegal subletting on its platform.

Nigel Lewis

 

A leading lettings agent has criticised Airbnb for its refusal to take action over illegal sub-letting after his staff discovered one of the apartments it manages was being offered on the short-lets platform.

The comments are to be made by Kristjan Byfield, the founder of London firm Base Property, during a programme being broadcast tonight on the BBC at 7.30pm.

The show will reveal how Base Property staff turned up early to a routine inspection to find the tenants checking in a family to the property.

After looking on Airbnb, staff at Base Property discovered over 70 reviews for the apartment, the timings of which suggested the tenants had been sub-letting it out since the beginning of their 22-month AST.

The tenants were contacted and told to either cease their sub-letting and move into the property or face an early termination bill of £4,295.

They agreed to cancel all bookings and remove a key safe box, but neighbours reported continuing short-lets comings and goings and Base later discovered that it was being sub-let to a Russian family.

“One thing I found extremely disappointing was Airbnb’s refusal to take any action whatsoever,” says Byfield.

“When we contacted them and provided evidence that the “hosts” were not the legal owners of the property and were in breach of the landlord’s mortgage and buildings insurance terms, local licensing laws, and both short-term let and HMO licensing, their response was take it up with the tenants.”

Base Property eventually called on the services of Paul Shamplina’s Landlord Action who, via a Section 8 notice, evicted the errant tenants.

“Unfortunately, unauthorised use for short lets is a growing problem, as Westminster Planning Enforcement team will discuss on the show, and councils are struggling to cope with the volume of cases,” says Shamplina (left).

Please note: Inside Out is a regional program. If you are outside of London, watch it on Freesat 950 or Sky 954.

October 28, 2019

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