Politicians of both major parties have voiced concern over former council houses being used as Airbnb and other short lets in a part of the UK with a major housing shortage.
In 2019, before the onset of the pandemic, Cornwall Council announced it would take legal action against homeowners who did not abide by the covenants attached to the sale of former council houses and flats.
Last month local publicity over a shortage of homes to let in the council followed the revelation that Cornwall had more than 10,290 active Airbnb listings but, in comparison, only 69 rental properties available on property website Rightmove.
Houses bought under the government’s Right to Buy scheme, which was designed to help council and housing association tenants buy their homes at a discount, usually have legal restrictions attached to the property, meaning the owner should not rent them out as holiday lets, let them to students or make significant alterations to their property.
Now the Cornwall Live website has carried comments from Labour councillor Jayne Kirkham saying: "There are bonkers amounts being let. I wrote to Cornwall Council officers asking how many were being used in my area and was told about half a dozen and I was shocked because I know there are dozens and dozens in Falmouth. I think there were a dozen in just one road.
"It turns out that half a dozen were only the ones in the last 12 months - before Covid there were an awful lot more. But not all of them have the covenants because the deeds are all different - so it is a faff.”
And Conservative deputy leader of the council David Harris adds: "From what I can see there's no penalty. The Right to Buy covenant was put in place for a reason and you don't get the right to exploit it. We have had a response from officers - there have been delays in following some of this up, which is understandable as officers were diverted to Covid.
"My instinct is we could push harder and my concern is that it doesn't look like there's any sort of financial penalty for people who have broken the rules.”
The authority - one of the most under-pressure in the country in terms of housing demand and supply - says it will take action against ex-council property owners who purchased under Right to Buy and are now breaking rules.
Want to comment on this story? If so...if any post is considered to victimise, harass, degrade or intimidate an individual or group of individuals on any basis, then the post may be deleted and the individual immediately banned from posting in future.