Draker Lettings says persistent sub-letters are a huge problem because those doing it know there are few or no legal or financial consequences for them if caught.
A property firm in London has called on the law to be changed so that illegal sub-letting becomes a criminal rather than a civil offence as a significant epidemic continues to sweep across the capital and beyond.
It is a criminal offence to sub-let some forms of rented social housing but not private rented accommodation.
Tenants in the private rented sector who sublet part or all of their home without their landlord’s permission are usually breaking the terms of their Assured Shorthold Tenancy contract and this can be grounds to begin eviction proceedings.
But Draker Lettings, which has two branches in central London and handles approximately 700 tenancies a year, says it should be a criminal matter.
“These are people who from the outset pretend to be who they are not, produce fake references and lie about why they are taking a property and then, often, behave appallingly when we and our landlord clients find out what they are up to,” says its Managing Director Tim Hassell,
“We have had to invest a lot in time, training and technology to try and get rid of illegal sub-letters and we run a mile if we see them.
“Also, we’ve partnered with a company called Smartsearch to change our referencing procedures so it’s much harder for people to sneak anything past us.”
Many of these illegal sub-letters, particularly in areas of London and other cities with easy access to popular tourist attractions, use Airbnb and other short-lets platforms to create revenues often far in excess of the monthly rent being paid, or fail to pay the rent at all. “Airbnb is a problem for us and it’s a problem for everyone and it needs regulation,” says Hassell.