Can tenants rent out their landlord’s properties on Airbnb? Here’s our take.

You may have heard the shouts and murmurs regarding the Airbnb debacle and the landmark court case that was won by Barbara Uecker in Victoria. If you haven’t, well, in a nutshell, a tenant was wrongfully evicted from a premises by her landlord based on the understanding that she was subletting the apartment on Airbnb without the express permission of the landlord, breaching their Tenancy Agreement. Turns out, the tenant was ‘house sharing’ and did not deem the Airbnb stayers as residents of the property, rather, they were classified as ‘guests’, therefore winning the court case.

Now, there is plethora amounts of evidence on both sides of the argument and a lot of angst to go with it. On one hand, you have the landlord/owners who are inflamed and fidgeting about the issue, and quite possibly rushing to do a general inspections of their properties as we speak to make sure they haven’t been duped; on the other hand, you have the tenants who may be considering putting their property on Airbnb as the issue is now officially legal. Who is right? Who is wrong? Well…

This court case was merely a canary in the coal mine to what might be symptoms of a larger more malignant problem. Our take is that there are bigger issues at stake here and we may need to shift the focus and see the problem contextually.

First of all, what happened ever happened to community? Put the red tape aside, along with all the court jargon that was used, and ask yourself, was that a nice thing to do? If the tenant had been the owner, and the exact same thing was done to them, would they have taken it on the chin? If it takes a tenant to houseshare a property on Airbnb without consulting the landlord then there is something symptomatically bigger at stake.

Secondly, if a tenant sought Airbnb to list a property, and did it secretively, they were either trying to make money, or make ends meet. It was a bold and crass move by the tenant but it speaks volumes about the state of the housing market in some of Australia’s cities.

In the end, it was issues like these that prompted the birth of Strataspot; that is, creating a more harmonious community where tenants and owners would be able to have open discussions about by-laws, agreements, and general housing issues. Our advice for landlords, include all the necessary fine print that will allow you to avoid these painful encounters. For the tenants out there, let’s be fair, do unto those what you’d have done to you, and have an open discussion with your landlord, and who knows – they might be up for the idea.

 

 

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