A Cornish woman has decided to change her Airbnb into a long term letting for local residents because she says her town is being ‘hollowed out’ by second homes.
Pip MacFarlane says that whilst it may be a ‘drop in the ocean’, she has decided to give up her lucrative business in a bid to help her community amid the current housing crisis.
Last month, it was reported that there were 80 Airbnb listings in Pip’s hometown of Penzance, whilst there were only five properties available to rent long-term.
Despite a huge demand for long-term rentals, there are thousands of properties across the county listed on the tourist lodgings site and more being added on a regular basis.
It comes as tourism bosses warned the staycation boom was over as foreign holiday bookings returned to pre-pandemic levels meaning the demand for short-term lets like Airbnb properties may dip this summer.
Meanwhile, there have been rising tensions surrounding second home owners in Cornwall, their impact on property prices and the notion that they leave towns ‘soulless’ and ’empty’ in the winter months, while the demand for affordable rental properties has increased.
Cornish landlady Pip MacFarlane (above) has decided to change her Airbnb into a long term letting for local residents because she says her town is being ‘hollowed out’ by second homes
Pictured: Pip has let out the top two rooms in her home as an Airbnb for about six years
Pip explained that she has been using the upstairs rooms in her home as an Airbnb letting for around six years.
However, after seeing a growing number of people struggling to find long-term affordable rental properties, including her own daughter, she decided that she wanted to do something to help.
‘It makes me very angry to see how many people on low income are struggling’, she said.
‘My own daughter has recently had to move out of her home because her rent increased and she couldn’t afford to pay it.
‘My Airbnb has helped me financially over the years but now I have to put the people in my community first.
‘Penzance is my home and I would hate to see it become another empty town just filled with second homes.’
Pip says she now plans on offering the rooms as a long-term, affordable letting for a local resident who is living in a homeless shelter.
She added that whilst she does not have an issue with all Airbnb lettings, she hopes that more second homeowners will follow suit.
Pip has offered the upstairs rooms of her home in Penzance as an Airbnb but will now let it out
Pip says she was inspired to offer a long term let instead of an Airbnb after seeing a man in Portscatho who converted his holiday cottages into long-term lets. Pictured: the bedroom
Pictured: The view from Pip MacFarlane’s Airbnb which she will convert to a long term let
‘It may seem like a drop in the ocean but I hope I can make a difference’, she said.
‘I want to share my story in the hope that it will encourage other Airbnb owners to follow suit, with a view to taking some of the pressure off the housing crisis.
‘I saw a story recently of a man in Portscatho who converted his holiday cottages into long-term lets for locals and that’s partly what inspired me to do the same.’
In total, there are an estimated 13,500 second homes in Cornwall with 10,000 places advertised on AirBnB.
But demand is expected to dip this summer, according to tourism bosses, who have warned there has been a ‘noticeable lull’ in visitors on staycations.
Some have speculated that the reason for this is the soaring cost of holidays in the UK, with searches turning up Cornish properties that would set a family of four back £1,700 for seven nights while a week-long trip to Marmaris in Turkey costs less than £800.
People looking to book holidays this year have complained about the cost, with some saying it seems to be cheaper to fly abroad than to stay at home.
Cheryl Scribens posted on Twitter: ‘Holidays in the UK are more expensive than going abroad. I was looking at Cornwall for a couple of days but it cost more than an all-inclusive week in Turkey!’
Pictured: the outdoor courtyard at Pip’s Airbnb which she will be converting into a rental flat
There are thousands of Airbnb properties in Cornwall. Pictured above: Penzance Harbour
Another added: ‘It does seem expensive at the moment! Looking with my friend and it would actually be cheaper to go abroad for a week than a weekend in the UK. Such a shame really.’
One holidaymaker wrote on Twitter: ‘For family reasons we had to go to Cornwall/Devon for six days recently, it was far more expensive than going abroad inclusive of airfares in four star hotels.’
Meanwhile, a recent report by Halifax showed that homes by the sea have increased in value by more than £22,000 last year, with values boosted by the pandemic’s work from home ethic.
Last year’s price increases mean properties by the sea have soared by 50 per cent on average or £95,599 over the past decade, with a 27 per cent leap in the past five years.
The figures shed light on rising tension in the area over second homes, Airbnbs and their impact on property prices.
A report by the Telegraph last week claimed second home owners bring ‘much-needed’ investment into the area.
But many disagreed with the notion that Cornwall would not survive without them calling the claims ‘fatuous tripe’ and ‘arrogant’.
Kate Hanson, who has a four-bedroom second home in Mawgan Porthtold the newspaper: ‘There is never any tension between second home owners and locals’.
Anti-tourist message was daubed on the road near the Minack Theatre in Porthcurno, Cornwall
She continued: ‘None at all, we get on extremely well. I feel people’s pain – there is a lot of poverty in-land – but there is a lot of tourism, and we spend a lot of money when we’re down there, as if we’re on holiday.’
Jane Baker, who has worked in property for three decades, agreed, adding: ‘We need second home owners, otherwise pubs would shut, restaurants would shut, shops would shut.’
In March, a wall in north-west Cornwall was daubed with the words: ‘Second home owners give something back: Rent or sell your empty houses to local people at a fair price’ .
A message on a neighbouring wall read: ‘No more investment properties’.
One villager from St Agnes, near Perranporth in Cornwall, said each time they walk past the house, they feel sad that it sits empty for most of the year.
They said: ‘Although vandalism won’t solve it, it is a talking point.’
Speaking to The Telegraph, one local – 57-year-old Andy Goundry, claimed he knew
In June last year, graffiti telling tourists to ‘go home’ was sprayed outside the Minack Theatre, a popular outdoor theatre built into the granite cliffside in Porthcurno.
Pictured: There has been a rise in anti-second home graffiti in Cornwall with some calling for second home owners to let out their properties to locals who need affordable long term lets
The words ‘tourists go home, no second homes’ appeared a short distance from the theatre’s welcome sign.
Earlier this month, the Queen’s Speech included a plan to raise council tax by 100 percent on second homes that are idle – neither being let out or used by their owners for at least 70 days per year.
Last week, the housing minister, Stuart Andrew, said in addition to the council tax hike, ‘there is more we need to explore’ – suggesting the government might take further actions to win the favour of locals who feel besieged by holidaymakers and part-time residents.
In January last year, Padstow Town Council began looking at limiting the number of second home owners in the area.
The coastal port in North Cornwall has high numbers of second homes, and may ask homebuyers to prove the new-build home they are attempting to purchase is their main address.