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Leaseholder pays social landlord £48k for unlawfully renting out his flat

A man who breached the terms of his lease by using his flat in Tower Hamlets as a holiday let has agreed to pay back social landlord EastendHomes nearly £50,000.

EastendHomes said it would re-invest the money back into Holland Estate in Spitalfields (where the first floor flat is based) in consultation with the local resident Estate Management Board.

The housing provider said the leaseholder had been repeatedly advised that he was breaking the law and breaching the terms of his lease by renting out his flat as a holiday let over a four-year period from 2016-2020.

EastendHomes said it had first been alerted to the holiday subletting by residents living on Holland Estate who were constantly experiencing ASB problems caused by visitors to the property.

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The leaseholder continued to allow the two-bedroom flat to be advertised on various websites for up to £220 a night.

EastendHomes applied to the First-Tier Tribunal which found that he had breached the terms of his lease despite his claims that a former lodger had advertised the property without his knowledge.

The social landlord’s solicitors, Batchelors, had traced the former “lodger” who told them that he had never lived with the leaseholder, and that he had to share the flat with other people who only stayed a few days at a time.

EastendHomes said the Tribunal was satisfied that the leaseholder’s claims about the “lodger” were untrue.

Despite the Tribunal’s ruling, the leaseholder continued to maintain that he had done nothing wrong and provided a letter in support from his accountant. However, EastendHomes said the accountant had been removed from the register of chartered accountants last year because he had been found to be dishonest.

The social landlord decided to forfeit the lease. Faced with losing the flat, the leaseholder agreed to pay EastendHomes £48,000 including legal costs. 

EastendHomes’ Managing Director John Henderson said: “It is unlawful for leaseholders to advertise their housing association or council flats on Airbnb or Booking.com, so if you know of anyone who is doing so, please let your landlord know so that they can take action.

“We are obviously really pleased the Tribunal ruling has found in our favour and that we can now re-invest this money back into Holland Estate for the community to benefit.”

A resident spokesperson for Holland Estate Management Board said: “Residents on Holland Estate welcome the successful action taken by EastendHomes. This leaseholder was not only unlawfully subletting his property he was doing so with no consideration for our local community. It’s very positive that the money will return to our estate and we are currently discussing ideas around environmental improvements.”

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