A trendy town has declared a ‘housing crisis’ after rental prices soared, sending residents’ prices plummeting.
Frome Town Council in Somerset said the average rent in the town had risen to £1,499 a month, or fifty per cent of the average local wage.
Councilor Polly Lamb, who proposed the emergency declaration, said residents were driven away by Frome being named one of Britain’s most beautiful towns.
She blames an influx of visitors and second-hand owners from London buying from Frome, which is known for its vibrant local market.
Councilor Lamb told the BBC: “Rents have skyrocketed and that is evicting locals who have lived here their whole lives. »
Frome declared an emergency to draw attention to housing shortages for residents amid an influx of tourists and second home owners
Sophie Mullins, owner of a local zero waste refill shop, says the rents are ‘very expensive’ and she was only able to find a place to live through friends
Saleswoman Lianna Denwood says she had to go home because she couldn’t afford to rent while saving to buy a house
Today, locals described the problems with rising rental prices.
Sophie Mullins, 36, owner of a zero waste refill shop, said: ‘I sold my house so I could open my own freelance business in Frome so I was looking to rent.
“I managed to find a property and stayed there for about two years.
“We ended up having very difficult neighbors and I was pregnant so we were looking to move.
“We had been looking for a rental for about four months without success. We also had dogs so it was extremely difficult to find an owner who would take them as well.
“We only managed to find a property because our friends had neighbors moving and passed our details directly to the landlord.
“It was the only way to find a place that wasn’t very expensive or had already left by the time we phoned to book a tour.
Property developer Connor Raudsepp has bought a run-down apartment and intends to invest thousands of dollars in it before renting it out
‘There was one instance where my partner went to view a property and we deliberated about it, he phoned to speak to the estate agent – and they told him someone moving to the area from London had bid more, offering £300 more per month and were prepared to pay a year upfront. We just couldn’t afford that.
Lianna Denwood, 23, a saleswoman, told how she and her partner moved back to their parents because they couldn’t afford rent while saving to buy a house.
She said: ‘I left Bristol after finishing school and went to work in London.
“When I finished that job I came home, but there was no point going somewhere to rent because I couldn’t settle down and enter the housing market, so I decided to move.
“My partner, who also worked in London, also decided to move because his rent skyrocketed by a big amount there.
“We both live in our separate households and wanted to move out as soon as possible, but renting is not an option because if we want to buy in the future, our deposit, our savings, everything, would go towards the rent.
“When you don’t earn enough, or you earn a lot but only enough to cover your living expenses, you’ll never get to a point where you can own your own property. »
An unnamed local resident, 41, said: ‘You can’t find anywhere that’s affordable.
“Anywhere with an extra bedroom, which we need, is just out of our price range. We are currently renting a twin bed and need a three bed.
“The speed at which properties are let, when sometimes there are houses that we think we can afford, we will book a viewing and off we go.
“The speed at which they are collected is ridiculous.
“There are a handful of properties available in a price range that we may be able to reach.
“Everything else is superior (what we can afford), we are working hard to pay for what we are getting at the moment.
“We’re just going to have to wait in our little house and hope things change. »
Frome was recently named one of Britain’s most beautiful towns – an award which locals say has attracted Londoners looking for quiet getaways
Frome residents have been forced to move or even live in vans after being forced out of the rental market
Local property developer Connor Raudsepp, 26, recently bought a run-down one-bedroom apartment in Frome with a business partner – and hopes to put it on the rental market when completed.
He said: “We are not going to ignore that there are profits in property development, the main reason I am involved in it is for profit. »
“However, this place is empty and will serve a purpose in the future: to put a roof over someone’s head.
“There are a lot of empty properties that could be turned into housing, which would increase supply on the market and reduce rental costs.
“We will probably pay around £120,000 and it will be let at market value.
“I think that’s fair, that’s the only thing you can do – because of the rates going up and things, you can’t do it cheaper because you won’t make any money and all such efforts would be useless.
“We’re not taking that money and then running off to the Bahamas, it’s going to be invested in another development somewhere else – another place brought back to market. »
Ironically though, rent hikes are causing many of the small craft businesses and cafes that define the city to close.
Local business owner Sarah Wingrove, 29, told the BBC that although she was born in Frome she still lives with her parents due to the cost of houses.
She said: “Even though I work full-time and freelance as a model, the mortgage officers say I don’t earn enough for a house in Frome. »
Local artist and tenant Summer Auty, 24, told the BBC she had to live in her van due to the cost of rent.
She said: ‘I can’t afford anything in Frome so I live in my van.
‘It’s ridiculous. We need a full redistribution of wealth, it’s awful all the big empty houses, all the land we can’t use.
Rented rooms in the city are now known to cost up to £500 a month, while a small single-person apartment can cost upwards of £1,000 a month.