• Tenancy Tribunal awards Wellington landlord Airbnb profits minus ‘service fee’

    The landlord of a Wellington apartment has been awarded the tenant’s profits from Airbnb.

    The tenant, Jeff Walter Patterson, had illegally sublet the Bellagio apartment, in central Wellington, on 54 occasions over six months.

    It’s believed Patterson made more than $12,450 but only $2,150 of those profits have been awarded to the landlord because the Tenancy Tribunal took into account net profit and ‘services fees’ the tenant would have incurred.

    “After deducting rental over the 6-month period, then the potential profit would reduce to $3150,” Tenancy Tribunal adjudicator Rex Woodhouse wrote in the order.

    “It can be accepted that in commercially renting the premises, as the tenant has done, then it is likely other costs would have been incurred, such as costs for linen and servicing of the apartment, as well as the tenants administration of the premises.”

    “In the absence of more accurate costing’s being presented, I will apply a nominal amount of $1000 for those costs. The remainder ($2,150) I will accept as a net profit figure for which any claim could be based.”

    The tenant had signed an agreement that said the property could not be sublet, including Airbnb and similar platforms, without the landlord’s consent.

    The landlord’s lawyer successfully sought an account of profits by demonstrating it was unreasonable to allow the tenant to profit from a breach of the tenancy agreement.

    Keith Powell, from Nice Place Property Management, says it’s not the first-time people have tried this.

    “I’ve never seen anyone do it so deviously and so purposefully, his lease agreement specifically said no Airbnb,” Powell told Newshub.

    It’s understood that this is the first time in New Zealand that the Tenancy Tribunal has awarded a landlord the profits from a tenant’s sub-leasing, rather than just exemplary damages.

    “There is a strong public interest, and interest for the landlord, in tenants not subletting premises without consent, as has occurred in this case,” adjudicator Woodhouse wrote in the order.

    On top of the profits, Patterson was also ordered to pay unpaid rent, damages for abandonment, sub-leasing, replacing locks and costs for door replacement.