Is your property being illegally sublet on Airbnb without your knowledge?
After a lengthy court battle, the Victorian Supreme Court last week found that a couple who rented a St Kilda apartment and then listed it on Airbnb is in breach of their lease. This ruling overturns a previous VCAT hearing which stopped the landlord from evicting her tenants for illegally subleasing the property after finding the listing on the popular accommodation sharing website.
Finding a good tenant is hard work. So when you finally find the right person, you expect that they’ll be the ones living in your investment property – but this isn’t always the case. There’s a growing trend at the moment for rental properties to be subleased illegally through services like Airbnb.
As a landlord, here are a few things you (or your property manager) can do to prevent this from happening to you.
Thorough tenancy checks
Be very careful of who you let move into your property. A bad tenant can be a very expensive mistake and cause many issues throughout the tenancy – ranging from constant late or non payments of rent through to excessive damage of your property. Before approving any applicant, your Property Manager should conduct a thorough screening process. Try to get as much information as you can about them by speaking to their employer and current/previous property manager or landlord. You can also check tenancy databases and use social media to try get a better idea of who the person is.
Make sure your lease is clear about subleasing
You don’t want your tenant claiming that they were unaware that subleasing wasn’t allowed. Make sure the lease agreement you ask the tenant to sign is clear about subleasing parts or all of the property on sites like Airbnb. Take the time to run through the lease agreement with your new tenant, so they know exactly what your expectations are during the tenancy. This will make it very clear that subletting the property without permission will lead to eviction.
Conduct regular property inspections
If you own an investment property, you should be doing inspections as often as you’re allowed to by law. In Victoria it’s every 6 months. Give the tenants the required notice and make sure you inspect the property keeping an eye out for any additional wear and tear or anything that looks a bit suspicious. Eg. city guide books, maps, instruction packs etc
Get to know the neighbours
Neighbours will be the first to tell you if there’s anything strange happening in your property.
Check Airbnb and the other short stay websites
If you suspect that your tenants are subleasing your property, the best way to know for sure is to get online and search for your suburb on Airbnb and the other similar websites. If you find your property listed, contact your agent or the tenant directly (if you’re managing it yourself) and put a stop to it. Make sure you take a screenshot first, in case you need to use it as evidence in the future.