Real estate prices and Airbnb’s gold rush trigger housing crisis in Torbay

Soaring house prices and surging Airbnb vacations are creating a “perfect” housing crisis on the English Riviera.

Landlords are pulling out of the rental market and ending leases so they can take advantage of the post-Covid boom and sell their properties as house prices rise.

Hundreds of people are also turning their properties into lucrative Airbnb vacation accommodations ahead of the busiest summer season in decades.

Torbay Council Chief Steve Darling said he had received emails from hospital workers who were being kicked out because their owners wanted to make the most of the Riviera Gold Rush.

Also, he said, there are many properties that would normally be available for rent that are used to make quick money on Airbnb.

Online research shows that there are over 300 Airbnb “stays” on offer in the Torbay area in August, with the number growing steadily.

Cllr Darling said: “We envision a perfect storm for Torbay, with all the factors coming at the same time.

“We were very low in Torbay, with low levels of social housing for low income people, and now we have the pandemic and the impact of the changes in society that we are seeing now.

“We have very few options for quick fixes.”

The private rental sector is unaffordable for most low-income households, campaigners say, and the lack of temporary housing in the bay means Torbay Council must provide families with homes as far away as Bath.

Now the council has started buying and renting emergency housing, as well as working with private landlords to reverse a trend that has seen 150 households forced into temporary housing, including 50 families with children. .

Local real estate agents say they are experiencing the biggest boom ever in the real estate market as city dwellers working from home search for a new seaside lifestyle.

Million pound homes sell in hours and figures suggest even low-end properties have jumped by around £ 40,000, excluding locals.

Rents are rising across Torbay, with hard-to-find three-bedroom properties now fetching over £ 1,000 a month.

Up to 50 people apply for each private rented property when it becomes available, and the gap between local housing allowance and actual rents increases sharply.

The government’s ban on evictions and other special measures in the event of a pandemic led to a drop in the number of families in crisis in 2020, but now the suspension of evictions has been lifted and the stamp duty is back, the demand is increasing again.

More than a quarter of the housing market in Torbay is made up of rental properties.

“Private rents are unaffordable for many low-income families in Torbay,” said Cllr Darling.

“Low-income households are particularly struggling to cope with rent increases, in part because of welfare reforms and other economic pressures, now exacerbated by changes in the housing market.

“More and more households are also staying in private rental housing because they cannot afford to buy their own housing. ”

In the fiscal year until this spring, it cost the council £ 1.7million to house people in temporary accommodation, not to mention the additional cost of staff to help those in need.

The council is struggling to find accommodation that is large enough for families and is now asking potential owners what they need and how the local authority can help them.

The town hall also asks agents and landlords how many people they will serve on notice and how many are waiting for court dates, so they can predict demand and try to keep people from becoming homeless.

The council’s new housing company, TorVista Homes, will provide approximately 350 new housing units in the bay over the next four to five years, including temporary housing, additional care housing and senior housing. It will also include social rent, affordable rent and condominium housing.

“We are doing the right thing by installing Tor Vista,” said Cllr Darling. “But it’s a drop in the ocean compared to what we need.

“The central government is more obsessed with the supply of homes to buy. It’s important, but for us it’s a crisis. There is a desperate need in Torbay.

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