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Rise in holiday lets squeezing private renters

New insights from Wales’ most influential think tank, the Bevan Foundation, reveals that the holiday let industry is having a dramatic effect on homes for rent

The growth of the holiday let industry in Wales is having a dramatic effect on homes for rent as well as homes to buy in many communities in Wales. In a unique analysis, the Bevan Foundation reveals that the number of properties listed on one major lettings platform, Airbnb, has increased from 13,800 in 2018 to 21,718 listings in May this year. Gwynedd, Pembrokeshire and Powys have the largest number of properties listed.

The growth comes at the same time as an acute shortage of affordable homes to rent.  Last month the Bevan Foundation found that only 60 properties across the whole of Wales were advertised at rents at or below the amount that a low-income household can receive through Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit (known as Local Housing Allowance).

Looking deeper into Airbnb lettings reveals just how lucrative the holiday let industry can be.  Steffan Evans of the Bevan Foundation explained:

“Property owners can often make significantly greater returns from a holiday rental than from residential lettings. On average, it would take a host letting out their property on Airbnb less than 10 weeks to obtain the same annual rental income as a landlord letting their property at LHA rates in all Welsh local authorities except Torfaen.”

The Bevan Foundation recognises the importance of holiday lets to the local economy. But with a shortage of affordable homes to rent across Wales, there is a balance to be struck between the economic opportunities offered by the sector and ensuring people have a home. Dr Evans continued:

With so few homes to rent for low income households, people are faced with an impossible choice: move out of their community, move into poor quality housing, try to plug the gap between their rent and their benefits by cutting back on food and heating, or become homeless.

If we are to find a long-term solution to Wales’ housing crisis it is vital that work is undertaken to regulate the holiday let sector as well as the private rental sector.”