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Housing crisis

Time to crack down on second homes

Newquay, Cornwall. Ian Wool/Getty Images

Our housing crisis would be much less serious were it not for second homes, says George Monbiot in The Guardian. Thanks to business-rate relief and the stamp-duty holiday, “every sinew of the state is strained to reward and cosset those” who deprive other people of a home because they own two. No wonder rural house prices have risen by 14% in a year. There are Devon villages where more than two-thirds of properties are second homes, and in Newquay, Cornwall, at least 500 locals are thought to be homeless – “while tourists surf, residents sofa-surf”. The result is community death.

It isn’t so much that there’s a shortage of properties. The government is building plenty of new houses, even if it doesn’t hit its target of 300,000 a year. The problem is, these homes are being snapped up by speculators as buy-to-let investments, which is driving property prices relentlessly upwards. Local authorities should be able to decide how many holiday lets a village has and, as in Wales, charge double council tax for second homes. Why isn’t this being prioritised in Westminster? Partly because every big cheese in public life, including many MPs, editors and senior journalists, “seems to own a second home”. We need to fight this gross injustice, otherwise we’ll end up “a cruel, divided nation”.

Why it matters Spiralling housing costs are warping the lives of an entire generation, says Madeline Grant in The Daily Telegraph. An estimated 59% of those aged 21-34 have been forced to postpone milestones such as marriage or parenthood because of the housing crisis. “Many friends long to have several children but fear they can never afford a family at all.”

Read the full article here.