Is your property being used as a hotel?
In our last article, we discussed the pros and cons of allowing subletting of your buy-to-let property. We explained why we don’t entertain the strategy. However, there is always the rogue tenant who thinks they can work a crafty one behind your back. Today this is made even easier by a phenomenon called Airbnb.
In this article, you’ll learn why it is so difficult to find out if your tenant is letting to Airbnb customers, and we’ll discuss some of the strategies we use to uncover the tenants who are acting as hotel managers for your buy-to-let investment property.
What are the risks when your property is sublet through Airbnb?
Horror stories of properties being sublet through Airbnb are becoming more common. When this happens, you don’t have any control over the people using your property. You’re at risk of untold property damage, theft and vandalism, as well as anti-social behaviour. Some of this may be premeditated, and others could be accidental. Losses of thousands of pounds are possible.
Ask yourself this question: “Would I lease my property to a constant stream of hen and stag parties?” No? Then you need to make certain that your property isn’t being sublet through Airbnb and other similar businesses.
Landlord insurance policies usually have subletting clauses, and you may not be covered for damage or loss of property if the buy-to-let has been sublet, even without your knowledge.
And it’s not only the possibility of property damage that puts you at risk. Most buy-to-let mortgage providers don’t allow Airbnb guests. You could be in breach of your finance contract, and risk losing your investment property.
How do you know your property is being sublet through Airbnb?
Unfortunately, websites like Airbnb don’t list by address. When you want to find out if your tenant is subletting through Airbnb, you’ll need to search on the site for the area where your property is located.
When you believe that you’ve found your property, you check the details of the host and find out it’s not your tenant’s name. Phew! Not your property, then. Except it could be. Your tenant could have provided a false hostname.
How do we find out if your property is being let through Airbnb?
There are a few ways we can discover if your tenant is taking advantage of your property, and profiting from hosting through Airbnb.
The first of these is to look for tell-tale signs during regular property inspections. Of course, during these inspections, we’ll be checking the entire property, its fixtures and fittings against the property inventory. We’ll discover if there are any maintenance requirements that must be attended to.
We’ll also keep our eyes open for new faces, suitcases, and piles of shoes that could be the belongings of overnight visitors. Other giveaways include maps and guides for the local area, and tea and coffee making facilities in the bedrooms. I swear that some tenants really do believe they are running a legitimate bed and breakfast on your property.
Next, we make sure we befriend the neighbours. Sometimes, being friendly with the neighbours of your property is as important as being close to your tenants. They don’t want to live near an illicit hotel or have neighbours that are constantly changing. They become nervous about their own security. They know we have vetted your tenants to the nth degree. The same can’t be said of overnight guests.
We ask the neighbours to keep us in the loop of what is going on in your property. We ask them to call us and report any suspicious activity. This includes lots of different people coming and going, excess noise and anti-social behaviour. This type of report is a good clue that there may be a subletting problem. We will then contact the tenant, arrange a visit, and inspect for the evidence we need to support any suspicions.
Airbnb? Act immediately
While your property is being sublet unscrupulously by your tenant, you are at risk in a big way. It could cost you millions. The public liability attached to your landlord insurance will probably be null and void. If a tenant (who you don’t even know is a tenant) falls down the stairs and breaks their back, you could be sued for medical expenses, lost earnings, and pay the court and legal costs.
If we think that your tenant is subletting, whether, through Airbnb or other routes, we’ll take immediate action. Fortunately, our tenant vetting procedures are so strict that our landlord clients very rarely suffer from a bad tenant.
A report of late night riotousness is usually no more than birthday celebrations getting a little out of hand. The reporting neighbour is often offended by not being invited to the party. But we’ve found it pays to err on the side of caution. Can your current investment property manager say the same? Do they have procedures and protocols in place to monitor for and deal with Airbnb subletting tenants?
If not, it may be time to reassess how your property manager is protecting your investment.
Next time, we’ll examine the options available if we discover your tenant is subletting your property. In the meantime, contact Ezytrac today on +44 1522 503 717 and we’ll be happy to discuss our investment property management services in more detail.
Yours in effortless property management,
Brett Alegre-Wood MARLA MNAEA