Airbnb blues: How to stop tenants subletting your property

Jul 2, 2018

Airbnb’s popularity has skyrocketed worldwide with millions of travelers flocking to the online marketplace seeking affordable holiday accommodation.

Sydney, as a global tourism destination, has been impacted by the site’s increasing footprint, with properties across the city being used as short-term rental options for holiday makers.

The introduction of Airbnb has been a boon for tourists, but the situation is more complicated for landlords. Whilst for some landlords it has provided an alternative method for letting their property, for others who don’t want their tenants subletting via Airbnb it presents new challenges.

Many landlords believe that sub-letting via Airbnb creates security risks and results in extra wear and tear on properties due to the short-term nature of the stays. Another risk is that Airbnb subletting can void insurance policies, which usually only cover tenants.

For property owners worried about Airbnb, here are some tips on how to handle it.

Update your rental lease

First up, make sure your rental agreement has you covered. Review your lease to see if it has a clause forbidding them to sublet the building or apartment. If not, add one.

Recently, some real estate agents have taken the action of updating leases to specifically ban tenants from hosting through Airbnb given the dramatic rise in the popularity of platform. 

Uncover Airbnb use

If you believe your tenant is subletting on Airbnb, you need to document when this occurred. In many cases, landlords have simply been able to use the Airbnb website to get a good idea about the nature of the subletting taking place.

The next step is to contact your tenant. If your lease agreement prohibits subleasing, then the tenant has breached the terms of the agreement. Some tenancy agreements include a term requiring tenants to seek landlord consent before listing the premises on short-term rental sites, which may also provide you with protection.

After contacting the original tenant, make sure to give them notice of the lease agreement violation and sufficient time, usually 30 days, to fix the problem. Under the terms of the lease agreement, you may also be able to terminate their lease should you wish to do so.

Consider your legal options

If the situation escalates, there is also the option of legal action. You may need to consider taking your original tenant to court or through mediation to put a halt to Airbnb use.

A recent case in Victoria, for instance, determined that a renter was in breach of their tenancy agreement by not obtaining landlord consent before listing the property on Airbnb.