Airbnb’s rise in Norfolk leads to a shortage of rental accommodation

8:00 a.m. October 23, 2022

09:53 23 October 2022

New figures reveal the rapid expansion of ‘Airbnb-next-the-Sea’, as growing numbers of landlords on the Norfolk coast turn to the online portal to rent out their properties.

Activists fear the steep rise could fuel a housing crisis in parts of the county, where homes that could be occupied by local families are being turned into far more lucrative vacation rentals.

Around half of the properties in some villages on the North Norfolk coast are now holiday rentalsand some areas have been dubbed Airbnb-next-the-Sea, due to the impact the phenomenon has locally.

Data from AirDNA showing clusters of holiday rentals on the North Norfolk coast
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Industry analyst figures AirDNA shows that the number of homes listed on Airbnb and the Vrbo platform increased from 2,549 to 3,382 between the third quarter of 2019 and the same period this year.

Some 92% of the total – 2,600 properties – were “whole house rentals”, with most being one-, two- or three-bed homes.

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Data from AirDNA showing short term vacation rentals on Airbnb and other platforms on the North West Norfiolk coast
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Along the coastal area between King’s Lynn and the Burnhams, which includes Snettisham, Heacham, Hunstanton and Brancaster, the number of rentals has risen from 947 to 1,299 in the past three years, with a similar percentage of whole house rentals .

Around Great Yarmouth the number has fallen from 810 to 1,228, with 89pc or 959 whole houses.

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Data from AirDNA showing short term vacation rentals advertised online in Great Yarmouth
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Similar trends have been seen across Norfolk, with the number of properties offered for short-term rentals rising from 6,313 to 9,034, with 87% – or 6,624 – of them in whole homes, according to AirDNA.

Chris Bailey, national campaign manager for pressure group Action on Empty Homes, said: “Councils need enhanced powers to stop properties moving from primary residential use to short-term rental or second home and be used as Airbnbs rather than homes.

Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey, national campaign manager at Action on Empty Homes
– Credit: Chris Bailey

“This depletes the housing stock and allows investors to outbid local buyers on average incomes, driving up purchase and rental prices.

“It is time the government allowed councils to take back control of local housing, instead of letting it become just another asset in a globalized property market, where new and existing homes are frequently bought by those without intend to live there.”

Weybourne Windmill pictured here in a National Trust's Across Fields photo

Parts of the North Norfolk coast now have the highest proportion of second homes outside of London
– Credit: Derek Hollis

The new data comes as the Campaign for the Preservation of Rural England (CPRE) has warned that the growing number of holiday rentals is ‘strangling’ rural communities and ‘crippling the residential rental market’.

“The problem is most acute in staycation hotspots, where hundreds of homes previously available for rent to locals have been replaced by short-term vacation rentals,” he said.

“The worsening housing crisis – which is particularly acute in rural areas – has seen thousands of families added to waiting lists for social housing.”

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The image across Norfolk when it comes to short term holiday rentals
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Airbnb said in a statement: “The typical UK host rents out their own home for just a few nights a month to supplement their income, and more than a third say the extra income helps them cope with the rising cost of home. life.

“Airbnb recognizes the historic housing and tourism challenges facing the UK and welcomes the new rules which support families and local communities. We continue to support the UK Government’s consultation on the matter.”

Old Hunstanton

Old Hunstanton Beach, rated ‘good’ by the government’s Swimfo website
– Credit: Chris Bishop

Airbnb said it supports a tourist accommodation registration scheme proposed by the government, which says it needs more evidence before deciding what to do.

He added: “The tourism accommodation registration program proposed by the government and supported by Airbnb would provide accurate data on the entire industry, including the number, type and concentration of short-term rentals across the country. countries and their impact within specific communities.

“The data captured by the registry would allow local authorities to identify and take action against bad actors and inform planning and taxation decisions regarding local housing.

“Airbnb is delighted to support the UK government’s review and to work with everyone on rules that unlock the benefits of accommodation for ordinary people while cracking down on speculators and big business raising concerns about housing and over-tourism.”

Chris Bailey said: “This is an essentially toothless proposal, with the consultation appearing to have been crafted for the government by Airbnb itself, which supports licensing but not limits on numbers or local controls.”



Vacation rentals in Wells are concentrated around the streets and courtyards leading to the harbor
– Credit: Chris Bishop

In Wells, on the North Norfolk coast, the average house now sells for £557,000, while the average household income is £38,000.

The Homes for Wells housing cooperative operates 31 properties with affordable rents for residents, with another 36 families on its waiting list.

Some 387 of the 1,563 properties registered for council tax in Wells are second homes and 244 are vacation rentals, totaling 36% of housing in the city.


Consultation is about to begin on the Wells Neighborhood Plan
– Credit: Chris Bishop

A draft neighborhood plan, which stipulates that any new property must be used as a permanent residence, will be put to a local referendum next year.

Wells City Councilman Roger Arguile chairs the neighborhood plan group that drafted the document.

Roger Arguile, who chairs the task force behind the upcoming Wells-next-the-Sea neighborhood plan

Roger Arguile, who chairs the task force behind the upcoming Wells-next-the-Sea neighborhood plan
– Credit: Provided

“Things get out of hand because they’re under the radar,” he said. “Also, it’s clear from our evidence that there are people who are moving renters out of their homes and into vacation rentals.”

Earlier this month, the North Norfolk District Council cabinet agreed to double council tax on second homes.

He also agreed that the council should lobby the government to ensure that all second homes and vacation rentals require planning permission.

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