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Legal issues with leasehold flats and Airbnb subletting

Can I sublet my leasehold flat on Airbnb - legal updates from LMP Law

You own or mortgage your property, right? It’s not rented, so surely, you’re able to do what you want with it, even if it’s a leasehold home in a block of flats? Think again! Most people aren’t aware of restrictions in place with a leasehold flat, and they can have serious consequences if they are breached.

Are you aware of any clauses in your mortgage or your lease that you would breach if you were to sublet for say, Airbnb usage?

Airbnb lets are often a hot topic and no more so than in the beautiful counties of Cornwall and Devon, with many properties being bought by non-locals and then renting out on Airbnb.  Many people who were born and brought up in the tourist towns say they can no longer afford to rent let alone buy there in their hometowns owing to city second homers and buy-to-let folk pushing the price of properties up. There is a big push by councils to introduce a licencing charge to try and regulate it a bit. LMP Law will update you as and when there’s more news on that front, but in the meantime…back to sublets!

Let’s go through some issues surrounding subletting leasehold homes in this blog below:

Can leasehold flats be used for Airbnb?

As specialist leasehold property lawyers, we understand the pitfalls that might come with owning a flat in a block whether you want to sublet your flat, or you have a dispute with your neighbour who sublets their flat. Are you a property manager that needs advice on Airbnb lettings, or a block manager that overseas local authority subletting?

Whatever your issues surrounding leasehold properties and Airbnb lettings let’s guide you here:

What’s a Residential Lease and what are its restrictions?

The wording of a lease can vary for every property so make sure that you refer to the specific wording that is in your own lease because it will show you what you specifically have agreed to. The lease lays out exactly what you have bought, showing what is yours and what you have to share. The lease will also show what services the landlord has to deliver and what you have to pay.

There are some restrictions that you must be aware of. Such as noise, pets, subletting, how many people live at the property, altering things within the property, how you use the property, and even the hanging of your washing. These restrictions can be added into your residential lease, so you should check yours for any of these restrictions.

It’s always all about the lease!

Can I stop my neighbour letting out their leasehold flat on Airbnb?

Simply the answer is yes but only if certain points apply.

If your neighbour owns a leasehold property where the lease has a restriction about parting of possession or states that the property should be used as a private residence. If this is the case, then your lease may allow you to take steps to stop your neighbour letting out their leasehold flat on Airbnb as you have the rights to get your landlord to take steps to make that neighbour of yours comply with the terms of the lease!

Does your neighbour require planning permission for letting out his leasehold flat? If he has not got this permission then you can stop him doing this. Planning permission is needed for any short-term lettings where they will excess of 90 days in a year and the permission can be refused.

Is one of the reasons you want to stop your neighbour subletting to Airbnb because you think it will cause a nuisance? Neighbours being disturbed by noisy gatherings is a common theme! Or damage to common parts and water leaks, litter, and a constant flow of people coming in and out of the building which of results in security issues, this is causing a nuisance for sure. You can go through civil proceedings for an injunction or action by the local authority under statute.  As lawyers we can help, but it can be an expensive method to put an end to the subletting, yet we sometimes find that the threat of that action is often effective in itself to get your neighbour to stop.

Most residential leases will have restrictions in place that prohibit subletting properties for less than six months without the consent of the landlord. There might even be a restriction stating that the property can only be used as a private residential flat for one family. Really worth checking the lease!

Does a leasehold property need planning permission for Airbnb use?

An issue that comes with Airbnb use is that there are planning restrictions within your local authority. Some local authorities restrict the use of residential premises for temporary accommodation. So, before Airbnb is used, checking with the local authority to ensure that no planning restrictions have been breached is essential. The terms of the lease should be thoroughly checked and understood before it is used for Airbnb usage as the terms might clearly be stated already. Definitely speak to us before you rent it out!

For short-term lettings in London, as an example, planning permission is needed if there is an excess of 90 days in any years of its use. The planning permission can be refused as well if it is likely that a nuisance or security issue will be created, or if the sense of community of the building or neighbourhood will be affected. It’s a big conversation to be had!

How to prevent a breach in short-term lettings

Make sure that you have checked the terms of your lease and what you have agreed to. You might notice in your lease a clause which states that a single private residence only can use the property, this rules out subletting to a place like AirBnb.

We would recommend that you keep up with other residents and keep open communications with people in the property; and if they are using Airbnb or something similar, then make it clear to them that they could be breaching their lease. This should stop any unwanted guests walking around the property building.

One way to stay ahead of listings being put up in your property, is keeping an eye on Airbnb’s website, or similar sites, so that you are made aware if any flats in your building or area are being listed without your knowledge.

Laura’s Concluding Thoughts on Leasehold Properties & Airbnb

There are a load of restrictions that you need to be aware of when a leasehold flat’s owner is thinking of subletting to companies such as Airbnb. If your property block is struggling with short term lettings then you can get in touch with us for support and advice on the situation. Our approach is firm, but fair and effective! Everyone needs to be aware if they are breaching their lease and there are severe consequences to this too.

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Laura

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