With the rise of Airbnb the ability to sublet has made it easier for tenants to cover the cost of their monthly rental. The UK is a big market for Airbnb, with over 81,000 properties listed on the platform here and 2.2 million tourists using the service to stay in Britain in 2015 alone. With this increase I am regularly asked if “subletting” is illegal. The answer is no, but it is a breach of contract as long as you have added this exclusion to the tenancy agreement. Understanding the correct definition of “subletting” helps. We take a property from a landlord, rent it out to a tenant and then the actual tenant “sublets” the property in return for money.
Technically this means the tenant will take on the responsibilities of the landlord so the risk is not with the Landlord. For example if the tenant sublets and is found to be taking money from an illegal immigrant, without having followed the Right to Rent checks, they will be liable for the civil penalty, not the Landlord.
So what are the risks? Some mortgage companies are now adding caveats that a sublet through Airbnb will be considered a breach of the mortgage agreement. We have had one situation where the actual tenant had vacated but left behind the sublessee. An easy remedy but it meant that we did not have the property available at the point required. Remember, the sublessee does not have the rights, the actual tenant has.
How do you protect yourself? Make sure that you are aware of who is living in the property. We carry out quarterly checks for our Landlords – it’s not difficult to spot an additional person or people. The chances of this happening are small, but you still need to be aware of the risks.