Airbnb – Are You In Breach of Your Lease?

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On the 1st May 2018 the Central London County Court upheld a decision granting a landlord an injunction against further letting of a flat as an Airbnb as it was found that the use amounted to a breach of the covenants in the lease.

In the case of Bermondsey Exchange Freeholders Limited v Ninos Koumetto (as Trustee in Bankruptcy of Kevin Geoghegan Conway) (unreported) Kevin Conway was the leaseholder of a 999 year lease of a flat in the Bermondsey Exchange building in South London.  Mr Conway began letting his flat through Airbnb and other online agencies. The freeholder was concerned about nuisance and security issues and so applied for an injunction to stop Mr Conway from using the flat for temporary lettings. The judge granted an injunction preventing Mr Conway from using the flat as an Airbnb on the basis that there was a clear breach of the lease.

Mr Conway became bankrupt shortly before the judgment, but his trustee in bankruptcy appealed against the judgment.

The appeal at the Central London County Court was rejected on the following grounds:

  • the lease did not allow subletting or permitting others to occupy the flat other than by a subletting or assignment with the Landlord’s consent; and
  • the user covenant in the lease required the flat to be used as a residential flat for the occupation of one family only.

This case will be welcome news to freeholders who may be able to prevent the use of their properties for short term lettings.  In recent years, particularly in the prime London market, there has been a sharp increase in temporary lettings through Airbnb and other online platforms, and therefore, it is likely that these type of disputes will become more frequent.   If you are a flat owner you must check the terms of your lease before listing a property otherwise you could be in breach of your lease and risk being taken to court by your freeholder.

Meaby&Co Solicitors LLP can advise you on all property matters. Please contact Zahra Shah (zshah@meaby.co.uk) for more details.

 

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