A Cornwall mother has told her ordeal of housing crisis on national radio, after being evicted by her landlord only to see her old home re-let for an extra £450. Laura Williams, from Newlyn, called Radio 4’s Today program and explained her situation.
Mum-of-four Laura told Plymouth host Simon Jack how she rented a three-bedroom house in Newlyn for years until last summer. In mid-2021, Ms Williams said, she asked her landlord for repairs because the house was “looking quite tired”.
She recalled that shortly thereafter she had received a Section 21 notice and had now been living in a trailer park for five months. Section 21s are no-blame eviction notices that give tenants three months to vacate the home and require no explanation.
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Ms Williams said on the call: ‘We were told our landlord was moving in again but we just saw yesterday that he is back on the rental market. It costs about £450 a month more than we were paying.
In Cornwall, average house prices and rental costs have skyrocketed out of control in 2020 and 2021. Existing issues including the rise in second home ownership, the long tail of the right to buy and the lack of new social housing being built, have all been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Today, the average price to buy a house is 11 times the average wage, while rentals are both much scarcer and more expensive than they were two years ago. Ms Williams continued: ‘We can’t afford to buy our own accommodation and you have no security when renting so I would never want to go back to a private rental.
“I know so many families in the same situation. There is just no one able to buy anywhere. Obviously, if people can buy second homes, that’s great for them, but that means small villages end up being very busy in the summer but dead in the winter. They are empty while people can live there. I think the problem is a mix of second homes and the town hall.
Tom Godwin, CEO of Devon Citizens Advice, also called and said of the situation in the South West: ‘Sadly (Ms Williams’ case) looks familiar. We saw a lot of Article 21 towards the end of last year, a lot of elderly people being forced off their properties.
“Landlords want to flip homes or do Airbnb. There really is a disturbing nature. It’s really complex, local communities need more housing.
“It’s not ideal for people to be in caravan parks, and it could all add up. But the councils are strapped for money.