Government urged to tackle rental crisis in North Devon as second home sales soar

The head of the North Devon Council has called on the government to help tackle the worsening housing rental crisis in the region which he says is impacting residents and the economy.

City Councilor David Worden issued a statement regarding the local housing market in North Devon after district city councils declared housing emergencies last month and wrote to the council for help.

According to HMRC data, there were 2,591 vacation rental listings for properties in North Devon on August 4, compared to just 21 properties for rent on Zoopla and 30 on Rightmove.

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Cllr Worden said: “The North Devon Council is the local housing authority. Our senior housing member, Councilor Nicola Topham, and I are keenly aware of how the local housing market is making extremely difficult things for the local population and people who wish to relocate to the work area, to find suitable accommodation.

“House prices have risen dramatically in North Devon, with some pockets seeing increases of 18% in the past 12 months.

“Many of the properties that have been sold in North Devon have been bought for use as second homes or as short term vacation rentals and are therefore no longer available to locals.

“This is a very worrying trend and something that requires collective action by local and national governments to tackle.

“The impacts are not only on individuals, but also on our economy and our social structure, as businesses and utilities are now struggling to attract new employees due to the shortage of permanent housing.”

Do you think there should be a quota on the number of second and secondary residences in an area? Let us know in the comments section.



Cllr David Worden, North Devon Lib Dem Group Leader

In her statement, Cllr Worden added that the council has been very active in its efforts to keep people housed.

He said: “During the pandemic, our housing staff have worked tirelessly with their colleagues and with our partners.”

Cllr Worden said that between April 2020 and March 2021, council housing teams performed the following work:

  • were approached over 1,600 times and were able to prevent over 500 households from becoming homeless
  • helped nearly 300 households to access social housing
  • secure temporary accommodation for 241 people
  • helped 142 people with deposits to move them into more secure rental accommodation
  • housed 56 people sleeping rough, and
  • used a new ‘pod’ style housing to successfully house seven different people sleeping rough, while providing higher levels of support for homeless people

“We have also purchased a number of properties to use as emergency temporary accommodation, which means there is less reliance on guesthouses,” he added.



Priced Out Devon - highlighting the ups and downs of the Devon property boom

It is goods – not the coronavirus – which is becoming Devon’s hottest topic, now the terrible pandemic is brewing towards its conclusion.

As city dwellers head to the glorious Southwest to vacation – and live – in droves, there are clearly clear winners and losers.

Are there too many second homes? Are landlords taking advantage of a stay boom and prioritizing AirBnb customers over permanent tenants? Is Devon in the grip of a housing crisis?

These are questions we will be asking in the content challenge as part of the campaign. Prices outside Devon.

But it will never be that gloomy and pessimistic.

We’ve rounded up homes under £ 150,000 in the county that are perfect for first-time buyers and we’ll have regular updates on new build developments with affordable homes – and there will be more positive content like that here to come.

We highlight the ups and downs of the Devon property boom. Find our content here and sign up for our real estate newsletter here.

“Despite the pandemic, 117 new affordable housing units have been delivered and completed through the planning system in 2020/21 and as of May 31, 2021, we have approved an additional 636 affordable housing units and are awaiting completion by developers.

“We are very keen to have residents come forward when they learn of abandoned or empty properties that could be put back into service, and in certain circumstances are offering loans to owners of those properties to encourage them to put them back into service. We want to use our existing homes as efficiently as possible.

“It is clear, however, that the answer to the current problems goes beyond the powers of local authorities and goes beyond the simple construction of additional housing.

“There needs to be a joint approach by local and national governments to resolve these issues and will require the honesty and commitment of everyone involved.

“Our policy-making committee will review the issue in the cycle over the next two months and invite participation from representative groups and others affected by the crisis.

“I will give more details on this as soon as the arrangements are made.

“In the meantime, we, along with other Devon district councils, will push our local MPs to continue to raise the issue with the government and push for action to restore balance.

“This includes measures such as tightening the criteria applied to properties to allow them to be valued at corporate rates, the elimination of mortgage interest and tax breaks on capital gains on vacation rental properties and the possibility for municipalities to set a higher housing tax on second homes.

“We will also ask the government to consider incentive programs to encourage landlords to rent in the permanent rental market rather than the vacation market.

“This is a problem that will affect the character of North Devon if no action is taken now.”

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