The leader of a council in one of the areas of the UK with the highest number of Airbnb-style short lets wants the government to introduce incentives for landlords to stick with traditional long term lets to tenants.
The leader of North Devon council, David Worden, says: "The answer for the current problems goes beyond the powers of local authorities and goes beyond simply building more homes. It needs a joined up approach from local and national government to resolve these issues and will need honesty and commitment from all those involved.
“…We, along with other district councils in Devon, will be pushing our local MPs to continue to take up the issue with government and to press for steps to be taken to redress the balance.
This includes measures such as tightening up on the criteria applied to properties to enable them to be valued for business rates, removing mortgage interest and Capital Gains tax relief from holiday rental properties and allowing councils to set higher council tax on second homes.
“We will also be asking the government to consider incentive schemes to encourage landlords to let on the permanent rental market rather than the holiday market. This is an issue that will affect the character of North Devon if action is not taken now.”
Devon, along with other tourist areas of the UK, has seen a sharp fall in the availability of properties for long term let as increasing numbers appear to have been switched to the short lets sector, at least during summer months.
Councillor Worden says: “House prices have risen significantly in North Devon, with some pockets seeing rises of 18 per cent in the past 12 months.
“Many of the properties that have been sold in North Devon have been bought to be used as second homes or as short-term holiday lets and so are no longer available to local people. This is a very worrying trend and something that requires collective action from local and national government to tackle.
“The impacts are not just on the individuals but also on our economy and social structure, as businesses and public services are now finding it hard to attract new employees as a direct result of the shortage of permanent accommodation.
“…We have also purchased a number of properties for use as emergency temporary accommodation which means that there is less reliance on bed and breakfast accommodation.
“…We are keen for residents to come forward when they are aware of derelict or empty properties that could be brought back into use and, in certain circumstances, offer loans to owners of those properties in an effort to encourage them to move them back into use.”
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