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Airbnb is allowing my tenant to illegally sublet my house | Renting property

I am banging my head against the wall with Airbnb, which is allowing a tenant to sublet my house illegally. She began to fall short on the monthly rent payments in early 2022. I had a good relationship with her, and showed patience and understanding. Last November, when the rent arrears had increased to £18,600, I discovered that my house was listed on Airbnb, with reviews going back to April 2022. When I confronted the tenant, she ordered me to get out of her house, and has since stopped paying any rent. I asked Airbnb to remove the listing and had to provide proof of ownership before it would discuss the matter. It then told me it did not get involved in third-party disputes and referred me to the host. Relations with the tenant have completely broken down, so that is not an option. My house has continued to be listed on Airbnb, which is enabling the tenant to make money from my house, while refusing to pay rent.
LA, Chigwell, Essex

Your tenant signed an assured shorthold tenancy agreement that specifically bans subletting. That’s of no consequence to Airbnb which, extraordinarily, does not require evidence that hosts are legitimate, although it was quick to demand legal documents from you.

In fact, it does not require any evidence of anything from hosts: not ID, nor insurance paperwork. All new hosts have to do is describe the property, add photos and launch.

The consequences of this insouciance can be harsh for guests, as well as hosts. In 2022 I reported the plight of a family evicted from their holiday rental by the owner who discovered a tenant had listed it illegally on Airbnb.

Airbnb’s aim seems to be to distance itself, as far as possible, from the host-guest contract to avoid any legal liability, while pocketing a percentage fee of every booking.

Remarkably, when I questioned its policy, the company told me that your property had not had any reservations so far this year, as though that resolved the matter. Essentially, it relies on hosts to self-certify and has no plans to require proof of ownership and ID before a property is listed.

It said: “We have contacted the host regarding these concerns. We ask all hosts to ensure that they have permission to list their space, and remind them to check, and follow, local rules before they list, and throughout the year. “This is made clear in our terms of service, and on our responsible hosting page.”

According to campaign group Landlord Action, unauthorised subletting has soared during the cost-of-living crisis, and can leave owners with onerous legal liabilities.

“For years, I’ve advocated that short-stay platforms should enforce stringent security measures to verify ownership, yet progress remains limited,” said founder Paul Shamplina.

You have now sought a repossession order and, in the meantime, your tenant, who has gallingly been promoted to “super host” status for good behaviour, is continuing to list your house. And Airbnb will continue to pocket its cut from any bookings.

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