Surveys of Leeds council house tenants letting their properties on Airbnb

Several inquiries have been carried out in Leeds after council tenants were found to be potentially renting out their homes on Airbnb.

Leeds City Council has carried out four inquiries in the past three years after reports of tenants placing their social housing on short-term vacation rental sites.

The figures, revealed following a Freedom of Information request, come after a council tenant in London was fined £100,000 and evicted after subletting on Airbnb.

A spokesman for Leeds City Council said any suspected illegal activity would be taken seriously and in the most extreme cases repossession could be an option.

There was a survey of potential holiday rentals in Leeds in 2018/19, as well as one in 2017/18 and two in 2016/17.

Number of Airbnb rentals surveyed in Leeds council homes

Go to data unit

The council issued a warning letter to tenants in 2016/17 and one in 2017/18 following enquiries.

Although no fines or penalties were issued as a result of the investigations, one case from 2018/19 is still under investigation for Airbnb activity.

Across Britain, councils said they had carried out 55 inquiries into potential holiday sublets over the past three years.

The number of investigations is increasing – there were 24 in 2018/19, compared to 15 in 2017/18 and 11 in 2016/17.

In addition to this, Manchester conducted five surveys over the three years.

The growing number of short-term sublet inquiries may indicate that councils are more aware of a potential problem.

Runnymede Council of Surrey, which said it had seen no cases so far, explained how this was a trend it was increasingly looking for this year.

However, Camden Council said the numbers are likely to be low because due to the possibility of lawsuits and forfeiture of the lease, tenants are generally aware of the risks and will not sublet.

Councils said they issued 20 warnings to tenants for holiday rentals between 2016/17 and 2018/19.

A total of five tenants have been evicted after letting council properties as holiday rentals – one in Uttlesford, Essex, one in Ealing, one in Lewisham and two in Hounslow.

Golden Owl, Leeds Civic Hall.

A spokesperson for Leeds City Council said: “We take any suspected illegal activity or breach of contract by a tenant living on Leeds City Council property very seriously, and will always thoroughly investigate and take action. appropriate if necessary, including repossession.

In the past, we have investigated a very small number of instances where an allegation has been made that a council property has been advertised on Airbnb.

In such cases where there has been evidence that a council property has been advertised by tenants for use by others, action has been taken.

“An investigation of this type is still ongoing. It would be inappropriate to comment further on this particular case until the investigation is complete.”

On top of that, a tenant was given a caution in Islington, and another in Bury was given a 12 month community order, an 18 month suspended possession order and ordered to repay £1,000 in profits illegal.

The figures are likely to be higher as several councils were unable to provide figures specifically on holiday sublet surveys.

This includes Westminster, which evicted a tenant for subletting on Airbnb earlier this year.

The council said in its FOI response that it had conducted 190 subletting inquiries in the past three years, but could not clarify whether these were long-term or holiday rentals.

Similarly, Birmingham said it carried out 363 sublet inquiries between 2016/17 and 2018/19, but could not say how many were for vacation rentals.

Cambridge had carried out 40 sublease inquiries, while Bristol had carried out 265. Birmingham Council said it had recovered 54 properties in the five years following evidence of subletting.

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