Concerns 'staycations' fuelling rental collapse on Suffolk coast

High-cost Airbnb lets in East Suffolk could be fuelling the few rental properties on Rightmove. 

High-cost Airbnb lets in East Suffolk could be fuelling the shortage of rental properties on Rightmove. - Credit: Rightmove/AirBnB

Concerns have been expressed that the holiday home market is fuelling a lack of rental properties on the Suffolk coast. 

From the Shotley Peninsula to East Suffolk's coast there are currently only three properties available to rent online outside of Lowestoft and Felixstowe. 

Many homes - particularly smaller properties - that would traditionally have been available for rent are now snapped up by holiday cottage companies or let by owners to visitors via AirBnB.

Long-term lets have dropped off, while there are a lot of holiday AirBnB properties available at high prices in Southwold, Reydon, Aldeburgh, Bawdsey and surrounding areas. 

The average rent is £150 to £200 a night on the short-term rental site - this works out as nearly double the average wage in East Suffolk over a year. 


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In 2020, the district's workers earned £34,500 while an AirBnB let would cost £54,750 for 365 days. 

With a deposit of £10,000 and a third in wages in monthly repayments, a worker could at most afford a £200,000 property to buy. 

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At the time of reporting, there is one Shotley property for sale in this price range, one in Dunwich, four near Southwold and two in Kessingland. This includes a one-bedroom in a boat and two to three-bedroom homes. 

Southwold and Reydon district councillor David Beavan said the whole situation is one of "pure greed" by businesses, who see holiday lets as more profitable than renting to people locally. 

David Beavan on the pier in Southwold. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

David Beavan on the pier in Southwold. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

"There will be no community left," he said. "I think they don't rent locally as they make lots from holiday lets. 

"It's pure greed.

"The first problem locally has been prices are inflated and secondly holiday rents going up more rapidly and provide higher returns and are more profitable for companies."

Thousands of people are also waiting on the housing list in East Suffolk, he added, while many people cannot live in Reydon and Southwold and Suffolk coastal areas to rent and work. 

"We want to help people in trouble," he said. "It's a real crisis."

He said he knows shopkeepers and business owners that cannot rent locally and need to commute. 

Suffolk Coastal District Council's cabinet member for housing, Richard Kerry Picture: SUFFOLK COASTA

East Suffolk Council cabinet member for housing, Richard Kerry - Credit: Paul Nixon/East Suffolk Council

Richard Kerry, cabinet member for housing at East Suffolk District Council, said they are working hard to increase their housing stock. 

Mr Kerry said there are several interesting projects locally that will provide housing in Bawdesy, Felixstowe, Lowestoft and Southwold. 

However, he explained the council will always favour buying properties in the big towns of Felixstowe and Lowestoft as there they are cheaper to buy.

On holiday homes inflating prices locally, he felt little could be done. 

"If someone's got the money there is very little to do about what they spend their cash on," he added. "We are already charging higher council tax on long term empty homes. 

"But if they don't mind being charged [thousands] more there is little that can be done.

"We have to look at government for a national solution."

The situation has got worse in the last year, according to Citizens Advice in Leiston, and Saxmundham and surrounding areas.

From August 2020 to August 2021, compared to the year period before, housing advice enquiries are up 20% and now stand at 737 calls. 

Jan Osborne, Babergh District Council cabinet member for housing. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Jan Osborne, Babergh District Council cabinet member for housing. Picture: PHIL MORLEY - Credit: Archant

Outside of East Suffolk, Babergh District Council is also facing its own issues on the Shotley Peninsula where it will soon be able to provide eight homes in Queensland. 

Jan Osborne, BDC cabinet member for housing, said though most of their demand is in urban areas like Sudbury and Hadleigh where people work, this does not reflect the true picture in rural areas. 

She said: "We are always looking for an opportunity to build more homes. 

"Need is not so high in rural areas but this does not show the true issues here."

And Mrs Osborne admitted: "There is never going to be enough housing."

She explained on their new-build home target they are two-thirds of the way there with 220 properties. 

However, they face right-to-buy issues as council home stock is not replenished as people purchase these homes. 

"I do not agree with the right to buy. 

"This is one of the big problems local authorities face."

Neil Macdonald

Housing portfolio holder Neil MacDonald. - Credit: IBC

In Ipswich, housing borough council portfolio holder Neil MacDonald said it's not a question of supply as the town has a big economy with lots of rental properties and is not as big a draw with tourists. 

But Mr MacDonald said it could be "challenging" for those on benefits to get suitable places. 

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