Young and low paid workers in tourist hotspots are increasingly being priced out of homes, new analysis has shown.
House prices rose up to three times faster in some rural and coastal areas compared to the national average in July, Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures have revealed.
North Devon has seen a rise of 22.5%, while the UK average rose by 8%.
A lack of affordable homes could be contributing to hospitality struggling to fill vacancies, the ONS said.
The average cost of rent in the south-west of England rose by 2.6% in the year leading to August, more than double the 1.2% increase for the UK as a whole.
The ONS said the growth in demand for rental properties “appears to be exceeding supply”.
It added the fall in supply of letting was most widespread in the South West, East and West Midlands.
The ONS said: “Rising house prices and private rents mean that some workers are at risk of being priced out of living in rural and coastal areas, contributing to skill shortages in the tourism and hospitality industries that their local economies rely on.”
One couple from Barnstaple say they have been looking for a new home for five months with no success.
Sarah-Jane and Lauren Tolley have three weeks to find somewhere to live after being asked to leave by their current landlady through a no-fault eviction.
Section 21 notices allow landlords to evict renters without a reason after their fixed-term tenancy period ends.
Sarah-Jane explained two years ago they “genuinely had a choice” of where to live, but now are “in a position where we have to take whatever we can get”.
She said the “anxiety is immense” for them both and they were struggling to sleep over fear of being made homeless.
“The pressure that you feel in your chest is just heart-wrenching to think that you potentially might not have a home,” Mrs Tolley added.
The average UK house price was £256,000 in July 2021 – £19,000 higher than a year earlier.
Other rural and coastal areas with house prices rising much above the UK average are Conwy in North Wales (25.0%) and Richmondshire in the Yorkshire Dales (21.4%), the ONS figures show.
By contrast, house prices in the City of London borough fell by just over 10%.
Nathan Emerson, CEO of estate agent body Propertymark, said the coronavirus pandemic had created a “perfect storm” of housing problems in coastal and rural areas.
He cited the movement of people from urban centres to the countryside, shortage of housing stock, high demand for homes and increases in prices caused by a lack of supply.
“More importantly, we are in a position where that vein will continue for a period of time,” Mr Emerson added.
‘Losing our community’
Emma Hookaway, from Braunton in Devon, launched a Facebook group and campaign for the local community’s access to housing, after also being told she must leave her rental home.
She explained it was “nearly impossible” to find somewhere to rent, with people being increasingly priced out of the market.
Ms Hookaway also described the situation as a perfect storm caused by Covid, with more and more people moving to north Devon.
She argued the area was “losing our real sense of community” with locals unable to compete with the prices those moving in could afford.
“I don’t at the moment feel like my children will be able to afford to come back and move into the area,” Ms Hookaway added.