Airbnb Host Fined £100,000 And Evicted For Renting Out Council Flat
29 July 2019, 16:07
A council tenant was taken to court and ordered to pay £100,974 in unlawful profits after it transpired that he had been sub-letting his council flat on Airbnb.
Council tenant Toby Harman, 37, created the fake identity "Lara" on Airbnb to rent out his council flat.
He had been advertising it as a "cosy studio apartment in Victoria" since 2013 and it had received more than 300 reviews.
Anti-fraud software found Mr Harman's first name in reviews and traced the listing back to him.
The council tenant's bank statements showed he had been receiving payments from Airbnb for a number of years.
Westminster Councillor Andrew Smith said: "Social housing is there to provide much-needed homes for our residents, not to generate illicit profits for dishonest tenants."
"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," he added.
Airbnb confirmed that the listing had been removed from its website earlier this year.
A spokeswoman said: "Airbnb is the only platform that works with London to limit how often hosts can share their space."
"We support proposals from the mayor of London for a registration system to help local authorities regulate short-term lets and ensure rules are applied equally to hosts on all platforms in the capital."