Unlawful Profit Orders | Airbnb Subletting | Kangs Financial Offences Defence Solicitors
Westminster Magistrates’ Court has recently ordered Toby Harman, a tenant of Westminster City Council, to repay an amount in excess of one hundred thousand pounds under an Unlawful Profit Order (‘UPO’).
Helen Holder of Kangs Solicitors reports upon the situation.
What is an Unlawful Profit Order? | Kangs UPO Defence Solicitors
- UPOs were introduced by the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 (‘the Act’) as the result of a consultation paper which estimated that at least fifty thousand social housing homes in England were being unlawfully occupied.
- The Act created two new criminal offences and the ability to seek a UPO in the criminal or civil courts.
- A UPO can be made by a court following a conviction. A UPO requires an offender to pay their landlord any profit made from illegally sub-letting the property of which that person is the tenant.
- The maximum amount that can be paid is based on the total profit illegally received less any rent and service charges paid by the convicted tenant during the period that the property was illegally sublet. Interest will be added if the amount specified in the UPO is not paid on time.
The Act | Kangs Criminal Offences Advisory Team
The Act provides that a tenant of a property by virtue of a secure or assured tenancy commits an offence if that person, without the landlord’s consent:
- sub-lets the whole, or sometimes part, of the dwelling,
- ceases to occupy the dwelling as his or her only or principal home, and
- knows he or she is acting in breach of the tenancy.
There is a further more serious offence, involving dishonesty, where a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment may be imposed.
The Westminster City Council Prosecution | Kangs Criminal Defence Solicitors
- Harman had been renting out the flat of which he was tenant for a number of years, sometimes using a fake alias.
- Investigators discovered that website reviews mentioned him by name and
- Bank statements showed he had received payments from Airbnb over several years.
Westminster City Council stated:
“Social housing is there to provide much-needed homes for our residents, not to generate illicit profits for dishonest tenants. It’s illegal for council tenants to sublet their homes and we carry out tenancy checks as well as monitoring short-term letting websites for any potential illegal sublets. Along with a six-figure unlawful profit order by getting a possession order, we can now reallocate the property to someone in genuine need of a home.”
- Airbnb listings in London have reportedly risen to eighty thousand properties.
- Westminster Council states that there are one thousand five hundred ongoing investigations for breaches of tenancies and that in 2018 it recovered twenty four properties from unlawful sub-letters.
How Can We Help? | Kangs National Criminal Defence Solicitors
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If we can be of any assistance in respect of any criminal investigation or charge, then please do not hesitate to contact our team through any of the following: