Airbnb is growing globally, New Zealand being no exception. To earn a bit of extra cash and help pay the rent, a growing number of tenants are subletting rooms on Airbnb without the landlord’s permission. Here we discuss your rights regarding subletting, how to prevent it, and what actions to take if you find your tenants are subletting your Wellington residential rental property without permission.
How To Prevent Subletting In The First Place
First of all, we recommend landlords provide a clause in all tenancy agreements prohibiting subletting. Section 44 (1) of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 allows landlords to include a provision in the tenancy agreement prohibiting the tenant from subletting during the tenancy.
However, if the tenant is still living in the property while subletting using Airbnb, it may not be considered subletting under the Act. To cover all bases, you should specify in the tenancy agreement the maximum number of people that may reside in the property. Ensure you mention these clauses to your tenant at the beginning of the tenancy to prevent any misunderstandings.
Remember to never underestimate the importance of regular property inspections. Regular inspections not only help you keep an eye on the property’s condition, it also shows your tenants you’re not an absent landlord, and will regularly check the property to ensure all tenancy conditions are met.
What To Do If You Find Your Tenants Are Illegally Subletting
A tenant commits an unlawful act if they sublet without prior written consent of the landlord, or breach any clause of their tenancy agreement, as stated under section 44 (2A) of the 1986 Act. If the tenant breaches their tenancy agreement by subletting, or exceeding the maximum number of people residing in the property declared in the agreement, the landlord may issue a 14-Day Written Notice Period allowing the tenants to remedy the breach. If the tenant does not comply with the notice, the landlord can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved.
It’s best to act fast the moment you find out your tenants are subletting your investment property, and ensure you follow all procedures correctly. A recent Tenancy Tribunal case in March fined two tenants for breaching the Residential Tenancies Act and their tenancy agreement by intentionally subletting the rental property on Airbnb without the landlord’s consent, while living in their own property, showing it is likely landlords will be protected in situations of subletting.
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