The Council for the Protection of Rural England is the latest body to blast Airbnb and other short lets for their impact on the mainstream rental sector.
New findings in a CPRE research report show a 1,000 per cent increase in short-term lets nationally in 2015-21, with most in rural staycation hotspots – all while 176,000 families wait on social housing lists.
Its analysis of data on properties listed on Airbnb and other short let sites shows that 148,000 homes that could have otherwise – or in some cases, previously were – used as homes by local families are instead being put up on short-term and holiday lets.
This happens as CPRE claims there has been a steep decline in the completion of social housing.
The campaign’s data shows the biggest rises in locations such as Cornwall, Devon, South Lakeland and Northumberland, often combined with social housing waiting lists that are lengthening year on year.
The analysis shows that in South Lakeland, for example, which saw a 1,231 per cent increase in short term listings between 2016-20, roughly half the families in need of social housing could be accommodated in properties exclusively available for holiday rentals.
And in Cornwall, which saw short term listings grow 661 per cent in the five years to September 2021, there are roughly 15,000 families on social housing waiting lists and the same number of properties being marketed as holiday let.
CPRE chief executive Crispin Truman, says: “There simply has to be a government response to the fact that our rural housing supply is disappearing into an unregulated short-term rentals market that simply didn’t exist six years ago.”
The CPRE wants tighter controls on second home ownership, including higher council tax on second homes and the requirement for short term lets to have planning permission.
Additionally, it wants the definition of ‘affordable’ to be changed in national planning policy, with rents being tied to local incomes rather than market prices.
Truman adds: “It’s clear the government needs to act fast to avert a growing housing crisis. With the cost of living set to hammer people’s finances in the coming year, this is a problem that’s quickly getting out of hand.
“Across our most traditional rural communities, from the beaches of Cornwall to the lakes of Cumbria, homes that used to be rented to local families sit empty for much of the year. Hard-working people are suffering and they will not easily forgive a government that promised to level them up if it leaves them falling through the cracks of a broken system.”
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