A part of the country which has seen a severe long term rental stock shortage as a result of switches from mainstream lettings to Airbnb is now seeing growing demand for rent controls.
Cornwall councillors from the local nationalist Mebyon Kernow party are calling on the government to tackle what they describe as “Britain’s dysfunctional housing market.”
Four elected MK councillors - Michael Bunney, Dick Cole, Andrew Long and Loveday Jenkin - want action from the Westminster government.
Their open letter says: “So many families are struggling to access housing that properly meets their most basic needs, while it is scandalous that a lot of people have multiple properties – including second homes and bolt-holes – many of which stand empty for the majority of the year.
“In many parts of Cornwall, the very fabric of local society is being undermined – not least because of external misconceptions of Cornwall as a holiday or leisure area.”
The party - echoing calls from Labour, Greens and some Tories - wants changes to the planning system to prioritise affordable housing and make it more difficult for existing properties to become holiday homes.
The councillors continue: “It is wrong that the present set-up makes it easy for developers to get planning permission for expensive open-market properties and many developments provide no affordable homes at all.
“The definition of affordable housing with link to local incomes needs to be redefined. In recent years, central government has made “affordable” housing more expensive with ‘affordable rent’ units which have a limited discount from market rents and the recent introduction of ‘First Homes’ which could cost up to £250,000. Cornwall needs local-needs housing at a proper level of affordability.”
And just days after Scotland pledged to introduce rent controls, MK says:
“Changes need to be made to the planning system to control second homes. We need to introduce a council tax premium on second homes. It is clear that second homes are a massive social problem and councils should be given the right to charge a council tax of at least 200 per cent on such properties.
“We need to explore further mechanisms to better regulate the housing market. This should include the development of a local housing market for Cornwall with more local occupation criteria on properties and an expectation of all-year-round-residency, plus restrictions on marketing associated with estate agents. At this time, we are fearful that the UK government will not act to properly combat the housing crisis.”