North Devon MP urges council to do more to help with housing

North Devon Gazette

North Devon MP Selaine Saxby has written to North Devon Council to urge them to do more to address the shortage of long-term private rentals available to residents.Â

Commenting, Selaine Saxby, MP for North Devon, said: “The housing market has been an issue in North Devon for some time. Whilst building more homes, more affordable homes and ensuring those homes are available for local people to live in on a permanent basis is vital, the changes that we need to make legislatively and within our tax system will not solve the immediate problem.Â

“Following conversations with ministers, I have written to North Devon Council to highlight what they can and should be doing now with the powers that they already have.”Â

Within the letter Ms Saxby states that North Devon Council do have significant powers to help in the short term and that while she and colleagues are lobbying Government for longer term solutions, these changes will not take effect quickly enough to help those in need now.Â

Ms Saxby has raised housing and planning issues on multiple occasions in Westminster, including to the Prime Minister. In the last few weeks Ms Saxby has written to The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, The Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government about Houses of Multiple Occupation, Air B’n’B registration and her support of Community Land Trusts.Â

Commenting, Selaine Saxby, MP for North Devon, added: “A confluence of events – rising house prices, the desire to move to North Devon, the eviction ban during the pandemic, booming domestic tourism have all led to a considerable number of people being asked to leave their privately rented home when there are no private rents available.Â

“In the main these are not people who are behind on their rent, in normal times many would have no problem in finding a property to move into. This summer, which will be a long summer tourist season, is very different.Â

“I recently met with Emma Hookway along with Braunton County Councillor, Pru Maskell, to discuss the problems. Emma has set up the North Devon and Torridge Housing Crisis Facebook page so that people could share experiences.Â

“I am pleased that through this page, residents have been able to support one another and have even been able to connect with landlords and find places for some members to stay. Emma and the group are also privately speaking with landlords and letting agents, something that North Devon Council have also started to do.Â

“Council housing officers have been working their socks off to get people housed and stay housed over the pandemic, this shortage of private lets was the last thing that they needed. Please, if you are in housing need, work with North Devon Council’s housing team and be patient and polite, they are doing all they can for you under very difficult circumstances.Â

“And if you are a landlord that has properties available to rent either on the private market, or can help the Council, please do come forward.”Â