‘Living here is impossible’ Locals lash out at Airbnb owners

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New figures have shown the number of “entire places” for rent in seaside towns has increased by 56 percent between 2019 and 2022 in England and Wales, compared to a 15 percent in non-coastal communities. The volume of demand for Airbnb listings per property is three times higher in coastal areas than inland spots.

These figures have prompted fears that once bustling villages will be turned into ghost towns, with homes only filled – with rich people from outside the area – during the summer holidays.

Recent research by campaign group Inside Airbnb revealed that, across the country, one in 67 coastal dwellings are listed on the Airbnb site – this is up from one in 105 in 2019.

In Newquay, Cornwall, and Whitby, South Yorkshire, one in six homes are on Airbnb. In St Ives, Cornwall, it’s one in five, and in Woolacombe and Croyde, both in North Devon, it’s one in four.

In Braunton, the Airbnb site states there are “more than 1,000” holiday lets. There are only 7,000 residents in the North Devon village.

Tenants are being kicked out of their homes to make room for Airbnbs or holiday lets – sometimes with no warning at all by their landlord.

Emma Dee Hookaway, 43, was living in Braunton in 2021, when her landlady asked her to move out so that her daughter could move in.

“I’d lived in North Devon all my life. I always rented because it was too expensive for me to buy as a single parent,” Emma told the Telegraph.

“My son, aged six at the time, is autistic. He could see I was worried so on the walk to school I explained to him that lots of people want to visit or move here because it’s beautiful and people want a better quality of life after Covid.

“I dropped him off at school and as I was going home I started crying. It hit me that I couldn’t find anywhere to live in the place that I called home.

“I posted a comment on Facebook and within an hour I had about 100 comments. That soon grew to 300 so I set up a group. It went viral.”

Emma went on to found the UK Housing Crisis Group, which enables residents in rural communities to speak out about how holiday lets and second homes are impacting them.

“There are so many holiday lets here in North Devon that there aren’t enough children to meet the quotas for some of our small village schools,” she continued.

The rise of holiday homes has also unsurprisingly contributed to the UK-wide housing crisis.

“The few rentals that become available have shot up in price,” Emma explained. “I was paying £900 a month for the house, but now you’d be paying around £1,400.

“When you take into account that the living wage – which is what a lot of people in North Devon earn – works out at about £17,290 per year, it makes living here impossible for many people.”

But this is not only happening in North Devon – the Cotswolds, Cornwall, Wales, the Scottish Highlands, and North Yokrshire are also being affected.

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The town’s mayor, Roxanne Treacy, told the Telegraph: “The impact of holiday lets and second houses – I refuse to call them homes – on local housing is the top issue for residents right now.

“Locals have been forced to move out, because of the lack of long-term rentals and massive increase in house prices. Those who are in a position to buy can’t compete with cash buyers on estate agents’ lists, with smaller properties being snapped up particularly quickly.”

Emma said she believes second homeowners should be taxed – it would be one way to tackle the ever-growing issue, according to her.

“We should tax people more for having second homes and running holiday lets. It’s extraordinary that during the pandemic Airbnb owners could claim £10,000 bursaries for loss of earnings,” she added.

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