Social housing tenants in Northern Ireland who sublet their homes through the online service Airbnb could be in breach of tenancy conditions, the Housing Executive has said.
Airbnb is a website where people can let rooms or whole apartments, usually but not exclusively to tourists, with the costs of accommodation set by the owner. The Airbnb website contains listings for more than 300 properties across Northern Ireland, with an average price of £65 per night.
Social housing tenants subletting their homes with Airbnb has been a problem elsewhere in the UK, according to reports in the i newspaper and the Times. Closer to home, the Derry News newspaper has this week reported claims that Housing Executive tenants in Londonderry may be using Airbnb to sublet their properties.
The Housing Executive, however, said they are not aware of the practice happening here but issued a warning that tenants who sublet their homes can be considered in breach of tenancy conditions.
A spokesperson for the Housing Executive said: “We can find no evidence whatsoever that any of our properties in the city (Londonderry) are currently being listed on the Airbnb site. To date, we have not received any reports or complaints that this is the case. From a legal perspective, subletting is not a criminal offence in Northern Ireland but can be considered a breach of Housing Executive tenancy conditions. It is a general condition of a Housing Executive tenancy that the tenant must not sublet or part with possession of the property, or any part of it, without the prior written consent of the local manager. In such instances a tenant is advised that any benefit entitlement may be affected.
“A tenant cannot sublet the whole of the property as this will cause the tenancy to end. Any action the Housing Executive would take is dependent on whether the tenant had sublet a part of the property (without permission) or the entire property.”
The News Letter has contacted Airbnb for comment.