Hundreds of residential lets are going to be lost in Welsh rural communities thanks to a slew of short-sighted government policies. This is despite the Welsh Government’s laudable commitment to tackling the affordable housing crisis,” says CLA Cymru Chair, Iain Hill-Trevor, himself a North Wales property-owner and farmer, facing difficult decisions about the future of his business’ housing let stock.
At a busy and successful Royal Welsh Show this week, this emerged as a major issue in rural communities as we met rural property owners, businesspeople, stakeholders and Members of the Senedd from the Cross Party Group on Rural Growth which includes MSs from all political parties.
Too few affordable homes are available for local people in Wales’ honey-pot locations. Rural communities need a widespread, large and economical residential letting stock and current Welsh Government policy is not only unlikely to solve this, but also is damaging to our tourism industry in which the Government itself has invested immense effort to nurture over many years.
As letting becomes unviable, landlords have no option but to withdraw properties from the market.” Iain says. “This can be heart-breaking for property owners who have let homes to families for generations – or who let homes below market-rate to employees, former employees or other members of the community. Ironically, the nature of these rural properties means that to pay their way they might become holiday lets; or they are sold – meaning that they’re lost to the letting market which provides low-cost and flexible options for those who need them.
We’re urging rural landlords to take part in our survey to fully understand the extent and intensity of the problem and inform government policy. All those who let rural properties should make sure their data and views inform this vital message to the Welsh Government which needs to work together with property owners to make more rural affordable lets available.” Iain continues.
The affordable housing crisis must be addressed. As things stand, the Welsh Government’s trying to address it with one hand – while the other hand is causing valuable homes to be lost. Changes in residential letting law are making it more difficult to make homes available to be let. Coupled with these changes, the Welsh Government has done little to address the loss of let housing stock owing to the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES). We – the CLA – fully support the climate and carbon reduction agenda, but many traditionally built rural cottages cannot be brought to meet these standards without substantial investment and a long period in which tenants must find alternative accommodation. For those many property owners who are unable to afford to do this, the only option is to sell the property on the open market and in many cases this will be out of reach to the local of affordable home buyer
Government policies are reducing supply of let homes in rural areas. Families are being forced out of their homes. The solution to the housing crisis is to improve the planning system to make it easier to commit suitable land to build new homes and to support property-owners in making redundant rural buildings into homes. This should be carefully targeted in Exception Sites. These actions will revive countryside communities and reinvigorate the rural economy.
To help us understand even better the housing situation in Wales please take part in our survey – which will take 5 – 10 minutes – at most: https://bit.ly/3RSt3oc