Second homes fury as tourists ‘drive out locals’

Last month, DevonLive launched its Priced Out Campaign, which aimed to explore the impact of increasing house prices in our communities.

Alex Davis www.devonlive.com 

In response to our Priced Out of Devon survey, more than 1,000 people have shared their thoughts as to whether there is a housing crisis in the county.

Currently, 75% of participants in the survey believe Devon is currently in a housing crisis, with 76% agreeing with the statement that houses are more expensive now than 20 years ago.

80% of participants believed that there should be a cap on second homes in the county, while out of 1282 responses, 80% of participants believed that locals were being priced out of their communities.

Of the people who completed the survey, 60% owned a home, 32% rent and 6% registered themselves as currently homeless.

One participant said: “My son is saving for a deposit but he’s also renting 50 miles away as it’s cheaper inland. Most of his wages go on rent so he will be saving for years.”

Another said: “Second homes are killing the community and driving out locals. Second home owners put a drain on local amenities and don’t put anything back. Long term it will kill off communities.”

Despite the majority of participants agree that Devonians are being priced out of their area, some readers believed that people could prioritise more in order to find a house on the market.

One participant in the survey said: “Most young couples run two cars, take foreign holidays, gym contract, the latest mobile phones and WiFi. They need to learn to prioritise, stop moaning and pull their belts in just like the generations before them did.”

Another commenter added: “People need to expand their horizons. They might not be able to afford to live in high demand coastal locations, but move 10 or 15 miles inland or to larger towns and they will find it more affordable. This has always been the case.

“When we bought our first house nearly 20 years ago we could not afford to live in the village where I grew up. We bought a house in a nearby town saved up some more and then could afford to move to the village where we wanted to be. Patience and priority are what is important: not the latest iPhone or another tattoo!”

In South West England, listings for properties in South West England have fallen by 49% since 2019, with rents also up 23%.

Availability of housing has made it incredibly difficult for residents to find homes in the county. On August 4 2021, there were 2591 holiday let listings for properties in North Devon, compared to 21 properties listed to rent on Zoopla and 30 on Rightmove. In South Hams, 10% of landlords have holiday lets; the analytics website AirDNA counts 2521 holiday lets, but there are just 31 homes to let on Zoopla.

While housing crises have been announced in coastal towns, such as Ilfracombe, they have also been declared in Bideford, Great Torrington and Braunton.

Many responses from DevonLive readers showed that the housing issues in Devon are not restricted to younger people.

One participant in the survey said: “My husband and I cannot afford to buy our next property, we are both in our sixties. We live with our daughter who owns her home. We sold our property before COVID moved in with her and due to COVID and my husband shielding lost our chance to buy a property at a reasonable price.

“We live in Torbay and are shocked by how many people are buying and own second properties and more. In our road there are holiday rentals and an empty holiday home. There needs to be high taxes on holiday homes to bring more to the market or fund more affordable homes. All new homes need to be rst and only homes.”

Another said: “I am a 30 year old working professional and house prices mean it is difficult to save for a deposit when rental prices are so high. You can’t afford to live and save.”

Increasing rent has become a greater struggle for single parents or lone tenants, who often don’t have a combined salary to hit the salary requirement.

One reader said: “I am a single doctor and cannot afford to upgrade and move from my two bed flat to somewhere with a garden as they are out of my price range. It must be even harder for others.”

Another participant said: “I am a single dad with two children living with me both with a disability, I’ve been on Devon home choice since 2016 and still getting on there. Since COVID, people are buying up houses like no tomorrow down here rather than living up North. It seems the single family parents are suffering, just because we are single parents. We shouldn’t be treated like this.”

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