A lack of longer term rental accommodation thanks to the growth of Airbnb and other short lets has led to a prominent council declaring a ‘Housing Crisis’.
South Hams council in Devon, which includes many of the most popular tourist and second home locations in the country, says there are not enough properties available for rental accommodation for six months or more.
Councillor Judy Pearce, council leaders, says: "We are all very aware of the problems that have been created this summer, because so many properties have been turned into Airbnb's. We have every sympathy with people wanting to come and visit the South Hams, but we have to look at the sustainable future of our district and if people can't afford to live here for work, then the system is going to break down.
“We can't have innumerable tourists here if there is nobody here to service the businesses that they are using.”
Now the council says it will:
1. Lobby government to allow a council tax charge on housing plots with planning permission if they have not been built after a specified period of time, to encourage developers to build;
2. Lobby government to review all holiday accommodation, to ensure that it is properly regulated, complying with local planning policies and taxes. “This could include an extension of the 90-day short let legislation, a proper planning class for short lets and proper licencing for them” says the authority;
3. Review all holiday letting to ensure that the owners are paying “the correct amount for the removal of waste and recycling”;
4. A review of the amount of affordable housing proposed, to see if it can be increased;
5. Further promotion of a lettings agency operated by the council to find properties available for local families in need;
6. To work with housing providers in the area to encourage tenants to downsize where possible and make larger properties available for larger households;
7. To create financial incentives to tenants downsizing to make the move more attractable and affordable;
8. To use Section 106 affordable housing contributions to help fund developments;
9. To arrange funding and the local economy to better reflect the costs of rents in the South Hams;
10. To encourage the development of an exemplar site of low carbon modular housing;
11. To invest in social housing; and
12. To lobby government to allow local councils to be able to charge 200 per cent council tax on second and holiday homes, as they do in Wales.
Councillor Hilary Bastone, South Hams council’s deputy leader, says: ”It is so very important for our residents, their families and their future generations that we tackle this problem now and do everything in our power to enable local residents to have a decent home. If people move away because they cannot afford to live here or they cannot find affordable rented properties, then our towns and communities will collapse.”