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Property dispute: Court rules that a residential property let through Airbnb was a breach of lease

The Upper Tribunal has ruled that the tenants of a long residential lease breached the terms of their lease by listing the property as a short term residential accommodation available to rent on the Airbnb website.

The case, Triplerose v Beattie, centred on whether the use of the residential flat in question as a serviced apartment available for short term occupation through online booking agencies represented a breach of tenant covenant not to use or permit the property to be used for ‘any purpose other than as a private dwelling/house for occupation by one family at any one time’.

Mrs and Mrs Beattie, the tenants of the property, explained that because of changes to Mr Beattie’s employment situation, they had relocated. Following this, they had made arrangements with a company for their flat to be advertised on both the Booking.com and Airbnb websites as available to let for short term occupation, with Mr Beattie still regularly using the flat.

Similar cases have been heard in recent years, with the popularity of short-term occupations of private residences through websites such as Airbnb and booking.com rising, resulting in several disputes.

This case was an appeal against the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) decision that Mr and Mrs Beattie, the occupants of the property, had not committed breaches of covenant through allowing their flat to be used by occupiers booked through agencies.

The terms of the lease stated that:

“Not at any time to carry on or permit to be carried on upon the Property any trade or business whatsoever nor to use or permit the same to be used for any purpose other than as a private dwelling house for occupation by one family at any one time.’

“Not to sub-let the whole of the Property without the consent of the landlord, such consent not to be unreasonably withheld or delayed save that the following are permitted without the Landlord’s consent:

“The grant of assured shorthold tenancies for a duration of no more than 6 months; and

“The grant of underleases giving effect to a shared ownership scheme, or any similar or equivalent scheme.”

The court ruled in favour of Triplerose, overturning the FTT decision, as Mr and Mrs Beattie were permitting the use of the property for use other than as a private dwelling/house for occupation by one family at any one time, and as such, were in breach of the user covenant in their lease.

The judge also stated that those advising tenants who are looking to take advantage of Airbnb lettings should be aware that unless there is “very specific wording, this is likely to be a breach of the user covenant in their residential lease.”

For help and advice on matters relating to property disputes, contact our expert team today.

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Adrian Austin-Crowe

Adrian Austin-Crowe

Head of Dispute Resolution / Personal Injury
After obtaining my degree in 1977 and being admitted as a solicitor in 1980, I worked in the Midlands and Thames Valley before joining Mander Hadley in 2005 to lead the Dispute Resolution Department.

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