A new call has come for government action to stop the hemorrhage of properties shifting from long term rental to Airbnb short lets - and again it’s coming from the south west of England
Tomorrow’s meeting of Devon County Council will consider a call for an all-party housing forum to discuss the crisis in which 70 per cent of privately owned properties that were rented out two years ago are now no longer available for tenants. And official figures reveal house prices in some parts of the county have risen by as much as 20 per cent in the past year.
Some of this is down to the growth in second homes - eight per cent of properties in the South Hams are now second homes, with four per cent in North Devon and East Devon - and some because of the Airbnb growth.
Councillor Rob Hannaford, leader of the Labour group on Devon County Council, will put forward a motion which “notes with concern that Devon is in the grips of a serious housing crisis”.
His motion adds: “Second home sales are soaring, private landlords are switching to holiday letting in huge numbers, significantly fewer homes are available to buy or rent, and both renters and buyers are being priced out of the county in an unprecedented way.
“The post-pandemic far south west property boom has especially compounded decades of systemic under investment in social and affordable housing, that has prevented local councils, housing associations, alms houses and charities from investing in more much needed homes for local people and families.
“Home ownership is now only a distant dream for so many and people who’ve lived here for generations are being pushed further away by property prices that they simply cannot afford.”
In addition, Hannaford has asked the council to work with its MPs to ensure that Michael Gove, new Housing secretary, “fully understands the collective housing challenges that we urgently face in Devon”.
The Liberal Democrats on the council want the government to “end the tax dodge loop-hole of second home owners switching from council tax to business rates and then claiming ‘small business’ exemption, so they pay nothing at all” and to “re-extend the notice period given to tenants to six months [and] maintain the local housing allowances at covid-levels (plus cost-of-living increases) to support families into homes.”
The Conservative leader of the county council, recently said the drop in private rental stock was “quite terrifying”, adding “…if teachers, nurses and young professionals were turning down opportunities to work here because there’s no accommodation to rent, that’s got to change.”