The British man earned $124,302 from Airbnb rentals since 2013, according to reports

By Hanna Flanagan
August 02, 2019 04:49 PM
Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty

Listing your property on Airbnb is an easy way to make a nice chunk of change — assuming you don’t get fined a fortune for doing so.

Toby Harman reportedly earned £100,974 ($124,302) by renting out his London apartment more than 300 times through Airbnb since 2013. But the British man, 37, promptly lost every last penny when he was fined £100,000 ($123,000) for subletting the government-owned property, Insider reports.

Westminster City Council said in a statement on July 19: “A council tenant has been ordered to pay over £100,000 after being taken to court by Westminster City Council for illegally subletting his social housing flat in Victoria as a holiday home through Airbnb.”

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“The council’s Corporate Anti-fraud Service found some of the reviews mentioned the tenant by his name, thanking him for his advice and local restaurant recommendations,” the statement said.

In the UK, it’s illegal to sublet council houses like Harman’s. According to Insider, the properties are owned by the government and rented at a subsidized rate — and occasionally distributed for free — to low-income citizens.

Harman hid behind the fake username “Lara” to advertise his apartment, but the Westminster Council tracked down bank statements proving he received payments from the property for “a number of years.”

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Harman has been evicted from the Vauxhall Bridge Road apartment, which he described as a “cozy studio apartment in Victoria” with a hot tub on the Airbnb listing. He “did not co-operate with the investigation,” according to reports.

“Social housing is there to provide much-needed homes for our residents, not to generate illicit profits for dishonest tenants,” Andrew Smith, Westminster City Council cabinet member for housing services, said in a statement. “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.”

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