A landmark ruling regarding tenanting through AirBnB has been handed down in the Victorian Supreme Court, likely setting a precedent for other possible cases regarding accommodation sharing.
Catherine Swan, owner of an apartment in St Kilda, successfully evicted the two tenants living in her St Kilda apartment after they listed the residence on the accommodation sharing site, AirBnB.
The tenants let the property while they were away for over $100 a night, according to media reports following the case.
Ms. Swan sought to evict the tenants after learning the property was being listed on AirBnB, but lost the case at the VCAT (Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal) and the tenants were allowed to stay.
However, Ms. Swan won the case on appeal at the Supreme Court of Victoria. It was found that the tenants had effectively sub-let the property as an advert presented to the court showed they were granting access to the whole property, instead of only one room. As a result it was found the tenants were contravening the conditions of the lease and had grounds to be evicted.
The VCAT ruling found for the tenants as they had entered into a “license to occupy” arrangement. However, Justice Clyde Croft of the Supreme Court found that as the tenants advertised for the “occupation of the whole apartment”, it constituted a lease and as such Ms. Swan had grounds to evict.
The case is significant because it could set a precedent for future cases regarding the accommodation sharing service, particularly for already tenanted properties.
It serves as a reminder to tenants to be careful when using accommodation sharing services. More and more agents are stipulating that advertising on sharing sites like AirBnB will contravene the lease and would be grounds to evict. Most agents and landlords would regard advertising accommodation at a property as subletting, whether it is exclusive access for the whole property or even just one room, while the rest of the residence is shared.
Given the ruling in the Supreme Court, there is now added weight for agents to evict in similar situations. Tenants need to make sure they are aware of the conditions of their lease, particularly regarding accommodation sharing, as they can run the risk of being evicted.