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Fraud! Illegal Airbnb sub-letting payments to be identified by council

A London council and Airbnb are working together to try to counter large scale fraud amongst social housing tenants who sub-let via the short lets platform. 

The collaboration will see Airbnb Payments UK share payments data with Kensington and Chelsea council for two estates in the borough to help crack down on illegal short-term lets.

The data sharing, which will take place under a court order due to GDPR requirements, will provide the council with payment evidence of social housing properties identified as being potentially listed as holiday and short-term lets. This will allow the council to take enforcement steps having obtained the evidence.


The order was agreed by Airbnb and Kensington and Chelsea as part of the local authority’s efforts to crackdown on the number of illegally sub-let council-owned properties. Last month four homes were “recovered” by the council, having been identified as illegally sub-let using this form of payments surveillance.

Airbnb spokesman Theo Lomas says: “Hosting in subsidised or social housing in the UK is illegal and has no place on Airbnb and we want to work with councils to remove social housing. However the current situation is complex and costly, and requires a court order to avoid breaking GDPR rules. 

“This is yet another example of the need for the UK to update its rules and introduce a single registration system, so authorities have the information they need to tackle bad actors and return housing to those in need.”

And a civil fraud expert advising the council - Andrew Herring of Pinsent Masons law firm - adds: “Thanks to Kensington and Chelsea Council’s fresh thinking in regards to tackling tenancy fraud, we’ve been able to apply civil fraud court procedures in a new and innovative way - supporting data-led public sector efforts to investigate and combat fraud and setting a precedent for others to follow.”

Kensington and Chelsea councillor Kim Taylor-Smith, who has responsibility for housing in the borough, comments: “There is a huge demand for social housing in our borough and it’s simply not fair that people in genuine need are being denied a place to call home because others are illegally sub-letting their council properties to make money.

“Tenancy fraud is not a victimless crime. It costs the public purse an average of £42,000 a year for each home and this welcome collaboration with Airbnb will help us to clamp down on it in our borough.

“Please, if you have any information about tenancy fraud being committed in Kensington and Chelsea, get in touch.”

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    Yep,a lot of fraud around council Housing.

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    A chap in a council house with his family in Norwich claimed he had left his wife and got a council flat just down the road which he then rented out for cash, I asked the council housing department what they had done about it, their response - 'not council policy to take action against people on benefits'.

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    Andrew - 😂 classic, i to am aware of a guy who rented his flat out for 3 years whilst living in his fathers council flat, and at the same time rented out his fathers motability car for the same period !! With the money he bought a new car on HP in his own name 👌🏻 Genius….. with that level of financial acumen he should be running a FTSE 100 company 😂. The whole system is riddled with fraud.


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