03 Aug 2021

A Conservative MP says he is to declare a “state of housing emergency” in his constituency because of the loss of stock away from long-term renting towards Airbnb-style short lets.

Anthony Mangnall, the Tory MP for Totnes in Devon, has told The Times: “There are just 19 properties you can rent long-term in the whole of South Hams on Rightmove, yet there are 300 advertised on Airbnb in Salcombe, another 300 in Kingsbridge, a similar number in Totnes. 

“Yet we have hospital staff who can’t find anywhere to live, RNLI crew that can’t live in the town they serve. This is starting to become dangerous.”

The newspaper says he is being supported by other Tory MPs in the south west including Steve Double MP and Derek Thomas MP in Cornwall, plus another Conservative member in a tourist area – Duncan Baker MP in North Norfolk.

Tim Farron, the former Liberal Democrat leader who is MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, has launched a petition calling for planning laws to change to stop family housing being turned into second homes and holiday lets.

He says: “The market is utterly broken and if we don’t step in we will see entire populations move out.”

The MPs all want Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick to introduce measures to ease the problem.

The Times suggests initiatives under consideration include regulation of Airbnb-style rentals; incentives for landlords to let to local people; the building of more affordable homes; restrictions on the number of holiday and second homes; and the ability to impose more substantial council tax surcharges on second homes.

In the first six months of 2021, nearly 15,000 second homes were bought in Britain according to statistics from Hamptons. 

In some areas of the Lake District, north Norfolk, Devon and Cornwall, up to 80 percent of houses are thought to be holiday lets or second homes, The Times claims.

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