Tourists to west England to check if rental affects housing

Tourists to west England to check if rental affects housing

Tourists heading to holiday homes in the south-west of England are being urged to check before they travel if their rental will worsen the area’s affordable housing crisis.

The call for “ethical consideration” of the potential negative impact of short-term lets comes as figures showed 3,000 new holiday and second homes were registered in the south-west during the pandemic while homes listed for normal letting halved and rents jumped.

The housing campaign group Generation Rent also found that in Wales, over the same period, the number of second homes and commercial holiday lets increased from 31,779 to 33,474, with the average weekly rent rising from £155 to £181, based on analysis of figures from Zoopla.

As thousands of families prepare to descend on coastal hotspots for half-term, the former St Ives MP Andrew George, who now builds affordable housing, said people renting holiday lets should consider challenging landlords over the impact.

In parishes around Padstow on the north coast, as many as one in four properties are second homes, according to Cornwall council, which has about 22,000 households on its social and affordable housing waiting list.

In March, graffiti appeared in St Agnes, Cornwall, which read: “No more rental properties. Second homeowners give something back. Rent or sell your empty houses to local people at a fair price.”

Gwynedd in Wales, which includes most of Snowdonia national park, is a hotspot for holiday lets and, according to research by the estate agency Hamptons, 16% of sales in the year to May 2022 were second homes.

George, the chief executive of the Cornwall Community Land Trust, which builds affordable housing, said the people were not at the point of “superglueing the locks or burning [second homes] down” but “anger is directed at the legislature that allows this to happen”.

He is calling for a new planning class for second homes that would allow town halls to cap their numbers. Asked what holidaymakers should do if they are renting, he said: “They should ask [the landlord] before they come: ‘can you assure me this accommodation is not having a negative impact on housing need?’”

He added that if they found, while on holiday, thattheir rental was causing problems they should complain at being “mis-sold”. If holiday renters “find the housing needs of people in the area are being overlooked they could write to the owner of the property and say they are never coming again”.

He said the acute shortage of affordable homes means low-income renters too often have to endure damp, cramped and energy-inefficient homes from private landlords who enjoy an imbalance of power.

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