An Airbnb host who rented out his central London council flat to tourists has been fined $176,000 and evicted.
An Airbnb host who rented out his central London council flat to tourists has been fined $176,000 and evicted.

Lie in this Airbnb ad cost host $177k

AN Airbnb host has been slapped with a $177,000 fine and booted from his home after renting out the apartment to tourists despite it being council property.

The Central London apartment, which has been advertised since 2013, had attracted more than 300 reviews from guests who enjoyed their stay. However, the "cosy studio" that included a hot tub was actually a council house he had been making money off under a fake name.

The social housing tenant advertised the property as a ‘cosy studio apartment'.
The social housing tenant advertised the property as a ‘cosy studio apartment'.

Toby Harman, 37, had been letting his central London apartment out for years under the name "Lara" with a fake photo of a woman.

It is understood Mr Harman was caught with anti-fraud software after the reviews used his real name, which conflicted with his "host" name on the accommodation website.

A council spokesman, Andrew Smith, said the illegal practice was "dishonest" and the property would be reallocated to someone else in need of home assistance.

"Social housing is there to provide much-needed homes for our residents, not to generate illicit profits for dishonest tenants," Mr Smith said.

"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.

Airbnb says it took the property off its platform earlier this year.
Airbnb says it took the property off its platform earlier this year.

"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."

Mr Harman has now been evicted from the property and told to pay back $177,000 in profits.

In a statement to The Mirror, an Airbnb spokesman said the property had been removed from their platform.

"We regularly remind hosts to check and follow local rules - including on subsidised housing - and we take action on issues brought to our attention," the statement read.

"Airbnb is the only platform that works with London to limit how often hosts can share their space, and we support proposals from the mayor of London for a registration system to help local authorities regulate short-term lets and ensure rules are applied equally to hosts on all platforms in the capital."


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