Second homes and Airbnbs force declaration of housing crisis

A South Devon district council says it has “no choice” but to declare a housing crisis due to soaring prices and the lack of available rental properties.

The issues were addressed at a meeting held by South Hams District Council yesterday (September 23), where a motion was brought forward to declare a housing crisis in the area which has become a hotspot for second homes and Airbnb conversions, with some housing prices. reaching over £ 780,000.

Earlier this year, a number of DevonLive reports found that 80% of homes in a Devon village are now second homes, coastal homes are now selling 20 days faster than before the pandemic, along with counselors from North Devon warning tenants are weeks away from eviction.

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At the plenary council meeting, fears were expressed that this crisis will not end anytime soon.

Making a motion at the meeting, Board Chair Cllr Judy Pearce said: “We are all very aware of the issues that have been created this summer as so many properties have been turned into Airbnb.

“We have all the sympathy for the people who want to come and visit the South Hams, but we have to look at the sustainable future of our district and if people cannot afford to live here to work then the system will fall apart. .

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“We cannot have countless tourists here if there is no one here to service the businesses they use.

“We have the Joint Local Plan, it works well, but it was developed on government direction, and while we are building the right number of houses, we are not building the right type of houses that we need in the South. Hams.

“It is becoming more and more evident that the housing policy that is promoted at the national level is not working in areas like ours.

“This is why, with Cllr Bastone, I presented a motion to the council. It contains a number of actions, which are completed and add to our “Better Life for All” plan and our housing strategy.

“This is a list of actions and I suggest we don’t talk a lot, but just keep going and take action.”



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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?

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But it will never be bad luck.

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.

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The motion comes after Cllr Jonathan Hawkins said in a previous meeting that “we no longer want wealthy millionaires moving to Dartmouth, Kingswear and Salcombe”.

Speaking at yesterday’s meeting, Cllr Hawkins added: “I want to thank Cllr Pearce for bringing this forward, this is a very important piece to all of our residents.

“At Kingswear we recently did a Housing Needs Survey and the results showed the average house price to be £ 783,000 which is absolutely frightening.

“We are doing everything we can – as we do throughout South Hams – to provide affordable housing for locals and local families.”

1. The district council will pressure the government, through the deputies and the association of local authorities, to authorize a municipal tax on housing plots with building permits if they have not been built afterwards. a specified period of time. This would encourage developers to jump in and build their sites without delay.

2. They will also pressure the government to review all vacation homes. This would ensure that it is properly regulated, in accordance with town planning policies and local taxes. This could include an extension of the short-term rentals legislation to 90 days, an appropriate planning class for short-term rentals and an appropriate license for them. This would prevent people from finding loopholes in the tax system and prevent too many local homes from being converted into vacation homes.

3. Council should also immediately review all vacation rentals in the District to ensure that owners are paying the correct amount for garbage removal and recycling. Businesses should not participate in normal household recycling and waste collection.

4. South Hams District Council will also ask the Common Local Plan project team to review the amounts of affordable housing in the Common Local Plan and see if this can be increased, so that the percentage of ” first homes’ on a development is in addition to the current 30% affordable housing requirement.

5. The district council already operates a rental agency to encourage landlords to make properties available to local families in need. There should be more promotion of this and regular owner forums to encourage more properties to become available.

6. The district council works closely with registered providers on many housing projects across the district; they will now work with them to ensure the best use of these properties, for example to encourage tenants to downsize as much as possible and to make larger properties available to larger households.

7. In addition to this, the district council proposes to use a portion of the income from affordable housing to increase payments to tenants who downsize to make the move more attractive and affordable.

8. Council is committed to using Section 106 Affordable Housing Contributions as soon as possible, to help fund developments anywhere in the District where the terms of Section 106 agreements permit.

9. Council also wishes to campaign for changes in the large market area, to better reflect the cost of rents in southern Hams.

10. The Council would encourage the development of an exemplary low-carbon modular housing site such as ZEDpods, to show that developments like this can be both stylish and pleasant to live in.

11. South Hams District Council has also agreed to actively seek investment opportunities in council-owned social housing with highly sustainable specifications.

12. Lobby the government to allow local councils to levy a 200% municipal tax on second / holiday homes, as they do in Wales.

At their plenary council meeting, Cllr Pearce and Deputy Leader, Cllr Hilary Bastone, outlined 10 actions they called on the Council to take urgently to address the crisis; two more actions were added during the meeting. They are as follows:

Cllr Bastone added: “It is so important to our residents, their families and their future generations that we are tackling this problem now and doing everything in our power to ensure that local residents have decent housing. .

“If people move because they can’t afford to live here or can’t find affordable rental housing, then our cities and communities will collapse.

“I’m glad our motion was passed by the full council, but now is the time for us to stop talking and stop acting.”

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