The National Landlords Association (NRLA) has backed claims that the buy-to-let sector faces a significant subletting epidemic following an investigation by a national newspaper.
An NRLA spokesperson told the Daily Mail that landlords face severe problems when tenants decide to cash in on their homes via subletting following the paper’s report about London landlord Fiona Wylie.
She recently found that her two-bedroom flat in the Isle of Dogs rented to a tenant for £2,200 a month had been placed on Airbnb at £280 a night which, if it achieves 100% occupancy, would generate £8,400 a month in income for her tenant.
The tenant involved had converted the apartment’s dining room into a lounge, making it a three-bedroom property without the landlord’s permission or knowledge.
Wylie says she only became aware of the tenant’s behaviour after neighbours alerted her to ‘comings and goings’ at the property.
The NRLA says her case is not an isolated incident, pointing out that recent research by Direct Line revealed 13% tenants sub-let their properties, half without their landlord’s consent.
As well as breaching the terms of the agreement sub-letting usually invalidates a landlord’s property or rental insurance and, if the tenant refuses to leave the property, they face a lengthy and expensive eviction.
Subletting is growing as a problem as many fraudsters realise the huge difference between traditional monthly rents and those they can earn from renting out properties via unregulated short-stay websites like Airbnb.
The Government is planning a crackdown on the short-lets sector, having promised to bring in registration for short-let landlords which, to a certain extent would stop tenants sub-letting properties and force the listings sites to vet properties before they are uploaded.