Airbnb will work with councils to expose rental fraudsters

Council officials have raised concerns that apartments in blocks such as the Trellick Tower were being offered on Airbnb for short-term rentals (Daniel Lynch)

Municipal tenants who illegally sublet their accommodation on Airbnb are more at risk of being exposed after a landmark court decision.

The online rental company has agreed to share financial information with Kensington and Chelsea advice after Supreme Court approved a system that eliminated the risk of both parties inadvertently breaching GDPR data protection rules.

The case came after council officials raised concerns that flats in buildings such as the lattice tower were offered on Airbnb for short-term rentals.

The new rules apply to two estates in North Kensington, but could pave the way for wider collaboration between Kensington and Chelsea – and potentially allow Airbnb to share similar details with other local authorities seeking to crack down on fraud for hire.

The court order will allow Airbnb to share with council fraud investigators the addresses of all properties in the two areas listed on its website – and details of any payments received for letting them out.

Throughout the UK, it is illegal to sublet social housing on Airbnb.

Kim-Taylor Smith, Kensington and Chelsea Senior Member for Housing, said: ‘There is a huge demand for social housing in our borough and it’s just not fair that people in need are being denied a housing because others illegally sublet. their municipal properties to earn money.

“Rental fraud is not a victimless crime. It’s costing the public purse an average of £42,000 a year for each accommodation and this welcome collaboration with Airbnb will help us crack it down in our borough.

Theo Lomas, Government Relations Manager for Northern Europe at Airbnb, said: “We want to work with advice remove social housing. However, the current situation is complex and costly, and requires a court order to avoid violating GDPR rules.

“This is yet another example of the UK needing to update its rules and introduce a single registration system, so that authorities have the information they need to tackle bad actors. and return housing to those in need.”

Prior to the pandemic, Kensington and Chelsea had over 2,500 homes available on Airbnb – the most of any London borough except Westminster – and over 800 rooms.

The law was changed in 2015 to allow short-term rentals for up to 90 days a year without the need for planning permission.

But concerns have arisen over anti-social behavior and a housing shortage for local residents.

Earlier this month, the Scottish government authorized Edinburgh City Council to restrict short-term rentals by requiring all new owners to obtain planning permission.

The Kensington and Chelsea council’s decision is part of a wider crackdown on social housing fraud. There are more than 3,000 people on his waiting list for housing.

Last month the council reclaimed four social housing units from fraudsters, including a one-bedroom flat in Ladbroke Grove which was sublet to three tenants each paying £850 a month.

In another case, the tenant of a three-bedroom house in Knightsbridge was found to have been living in Turkey for two years.

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