Family forced out of home-town after it is overrun with holiday lets

Family are forced out of home-town after it became overrun with holiday lets: Nurse and firefighter fiance say they can’t afford to live in Dorset seaside town due to soaring rents caused by influx of second homes

  • Retained fireman Joss Gibson says he can’t afford to live near to the fire station
  • Gibson and his nurse partner Chantel Marriott have to leave their rented home
  • They’re unable to find anywhere affordable for their family in Swanage, Dorset
  • The town has become overrun with holiday homes they say, forcing out locals 

A nurse and her firefighter fiance say they can no longer afford to live in their seaside home-town after it became overrun with holiday lets. 

Chantel Marriott and her partner Joss Gibson say they will have to move out of Swanage, in Dorset, as they can’t afford soaring rents caused by second homes.

The couple had lived in a rented house in the picturesque town for eight years, raising their three children in the town where they grew up. 

But they have now been given notice by their landlord, who wants the family home for a relative who themselves has been unable to find anywhere to live. 

It means the devastated couple, who were paying £1,000 a month rent, need to find somewhere else to rent long-term in the area, but there is ‘absolutely nothing’ that they can afford.

Ms Marriott says her partner will have to stop his job as a retained firefighter as the family will no longer be living four minutes from the fire station, and they face having to move out of the area. 

It comes amid a backlash from residents of ‘second home hotspots’ who have become frustrated by ‘rich outsiders’ buying property in the area, driving up house prices in the process. 

Earlier this week residents in Whitby, North Yorkshire, voted to ban out-of-towners buying new build properties in a move likely to give campaigners a mandate to demand changes from planners.

Chantel Marriott (right) and her partner Joss Gibson (left) say they can’t afford to keep living in their home-town of Swanage

The couple, pictured here with their three children, say the increase in rent caused by holiday homes in the town means they will have to move away

Ms Marriot and Mr Gibson have lived in the picturesque seaside town of Swanage (pictured) for most of their lives

In Swanage, Ms Marriot and Mr Gibson face being forced out of the seaside town where they’ve spent most of their lives.

The couple say the only three-bedroom house they found that they could afford was £1,450 a month, and this was quickly snapped up. 

Ironically, a second homeowner who heard about their plight has offered to temporarily accommodate the young family at their holiday home in the nearby village of Langton Matravers while they look for a permanent place to live.

But with so little affordable housing available, Mr Gibson and Miss Marriott face moving out of the area to a bigger town such as Poole.

Property prices in Swanage and the wider Isle of Purbeck area have shot up in recent years due to the amount of second home owners buying up property and turning them into holiday lets.

In the village of Worth Matravers, about 90 per cent of property is either a second home or a holiday let.

The average price paid for a house in Swanage is £429,000 – well above the £270,000 UK average and over 16 times the average local salary of £26,000.

The problem was made worse earlier this year when Dorset planning officials allowed developers to renege on a deal to build affordable homes as part of a new housing estate.

The couple are having to leave the £1,000 a month home they have been renting for eight years as the landlord wants to use it for a relative who has struggled to find somewhere to live in the area

The family now face having to move to nearby towns such as Poole in the hopes of finding somewhere affordable

The development company successfully argued that due to an increase in the cost of building materials, the project would have been financially unviable if the condition to make a third of the homes affordable remained.

Meanwhile local councillors have warned that Swanage will no longer have a viable community in the future as workers who help maintain it, such as carers, teachers and hospitality staff, can’t afford to live there.

Mr Gibson, 33, and Miss Marriott, 31, who have three boys – Jayden, 10, Oakley, eight, and Cooper, four – will be evicted from their home at the end of this month.

Ms Marriott, who works as Dorset County Hospital and is a local first responder, said: ‘After coming out of a pandemic when people were clapping for us on our doorsteps, to find ourselves in this situation without any support is really a kick in the stomach.

Ironically the family has been given a place to live by a second home owner who heard of their plight, and allowed them to stay in their property while they find somewhere permanent 

One local town councillor said the wait for an affordable two bedroom house in Swanage could be up to 29 years

‘Anyone who works in the NHS at the moment knows how exhausting it is.

‘Sometimes we are the pillars of the community – there have been occasions when I was the only person on the scene for a cardiac arrest. If I hadn’t have been there, they would have died.

‘But I could earn more as a cleaner. They earn £15 an hour – I only earn £13.20.

‘Once you take into account the cost of fuel, energy, and feeding the children, there isn’t much left at the end of the month.

‘We were supposed to be in our home forever. My kids have grown up here. When we moved in eight years ago, we were told it could be our forever home.

‘When we were given the two month notice that we had to leave, I couldn’t take it in. We just don’t know what we’re going to do – there is absolutely nothing out there.

‘My mother even works for a letting agents but she said – ‘there is just nothing.’

‘We are being driven out of the area that we have both grown up in and have family in. It’s just not acceptable.

‘We have managed to sort a temporary solution in a second home but that is more than four minutes away from the fire station. Without Joss’ extra income as a firefighter, a mortgage is out of our reach.

‘We were just two months away from getting one for a shared ownership home but it has been snatched away.’

Debby Monkhouse, a local town councilor, supervises the Swanage Community Housing project which aims to buy land from the local authority to build affordable housing for locals to rent.

Britain’s ‘staycation spots’ including St Ives, Salcombe, Whitstable and Tideswell are beginning to rise up against wealthy ‘outsiders’ who have been snatching up properties to convert into holiday lets and seaside boltholes. It comes after Whitby locals turned out in their droves to vote to impose limits on second home owners

A map showing the most sought-after second home towns for British city dwellers, according to RightMove, with Salcombe, Falmouth, St Ives, Brixham and Newquay all within the top six. Whitby sits at number nine in the list

She said: ‘Waiting for affordable housing here is an appalling situation and it is dispiriting for young people.

‘According to surveys, a wait for a two bedroom house could be up to 29 years.

‘Recently the Dorset Council allowed a developer to remove the affordable housing requirement on one of their sites.

‘The disparity between average wages and the average price of a property is one of the highest in the country.

‘According to a survey from 2020, 77 percent of respondents knew family members who had to move away because of the cost of housing.

‘We need to be able to provide genuinely affordable living rather than second homes and holiday rentals, which account for around a quarter of the housing stock on Purbeck. In some villages, like Worth Matravers, it is 90 percent.’

The ever-growing number of holiday homes in some of the UK’s most popular ‘staycation’ destinations has provoked fury from people who live there.

Earlier this week angry locals in Whitby overwhelming voted to ban people buying new build properties in the town as second homes.

Nearly 95 per cent of residents who were polled approved of the ban in the non-legally binding vote.

Whitby residents pictured queueing to vote in a referendum that will allow them to limit second home sales

The quaint English seaside town of Whitby in Yorkshire has seen furious locals vote to ban people from buying new build properties as second homes

‘No one was listening to us, it’s just money, money, money’: Whitby locals describe being forced out of historic Yorkshire village after they turned out in their droves to limit second homeowning

Furious locals in Whitby won a landslide 95 per cent victory in the first round of a campaign to purge the seaside resort of holiday cottage owners who mainly live 250 miles away in London and the Home Counties. In some streets every single house is a holiday home in a resort where the average property price is now £254,218 – up 20 per cent in a year. But most locals are priced out because they earn an average of just £18,900.


John Freeman

Reacting to the news today,  local art dealer John Freeman who trades in the market place, said: ‘No one is listening to the people in Whitby.

‘It is just money, money, money. That is the thing which is speaking loudest. It is appalling for local infrastructure. Virtually every shop in Whitby has a notice saying ‘Staff Required’ because the people who wold work in cafes or restraints have no way of living locally with the way wages are.

‘The whole town is being forced into a downward spiral.’


Gift shop owner Danny Wilson

Gift shop owner Danny Wilson, 52, said: ‘It is a fashionable thing to do to buy a second property. Meanwhile, I am living in a cellar. I cannot find a house. Whitby has to has a bit of artistic flair to make it the town it. Those sort of people are being priced out so there is nothing interesting happening in the community.

‘All the pubs used to have local bands. People would come because we were artistic and interesting. But that’s all gone because local people cannot afford to live here. I had enough money three years ago to put down on a place but prices are going up faster than I can save.’


Andrew Cavendish

Andrew Cavendish, 35, said: ‘I am a tradesman at Whitby. If I get evicted from my property i would have to move away because there is not a rental that suits me and my three children that I can afford. I could not stay if I wanted to. It is ridiculous.

‘Some big firms are snapping up former rental properties for sale and rent them out to workers. Customers are my bread and butter. But it is not a case there is no suitable housing. There is no housing for local people. It is a real issue.

‘I will not be able to have my business in Whitby. My landlord is selling the house in spring so I am ready looking at houses outside Whitby.’


Fish and chip shop worker Danielle Brown

Fish and chip shop worker Danielle Brown, 46, told MailOnline: ‘I am living in rented accommodation and would love to buy my own house. But the prices around here are ridiculous and I am skint. The houses are going up and up and up and I could not move out of my flat because there is absolutely nothing.’

Local rock shop owner Sarah Chambers, 36, added: ‘It is a bit of nightmare. You have to look at it as a business person as a local.

‘As a business owner for us it is great. It brings revenue to the town and that’s what pays our wages. But I get the point first time buyers cannot get on the property ladder.

‘So I can see both sides and that is why I did not vote. Staffing is a big issue. We cannot get the staff for seasonal wages. It is absolutely crazy. There is a lot of holiday homes in Whitby but it brings a lot of trade so it is a tough one and there will be a witch hunt in Whitby about this. I am a local but have a holiday home as well.’

Campaigners said the referendum will highlight the problem of ‘bonkers’ prices forcing teachers, doctors and other key workers out of town while leaving it as a ‘theme park’ for wealthy second homeowners.

In some streets every single house is a holiday home in a resort where the average property price is now £254,218 – up 20 per cent in a year. But most locals are priced out because they earn an average of just £18,900. 

Whitby’s astonishing decision may have sparked a ‘quiet revolution’ among disgruntled residents in a string of historic seaside towns across Britain – from Lyme Regis, Salcombe and Falmouth to Tideswell and even St Ives.

Whitby councillor Philip Trumper today claimed that her town’s example could ‘inspire others to do the same’, adding: ‘There are lots of seaside resorts in the UK that are in a similar position. While a vote shows the strength of public opinion, it is not legally binding, so these areas will all have to change their local plans’.

Speaking to MailOnline, Falmouth town councillor Jayne Kirkham said that the people of Cornwall, Devon, Cumbria, the Peak District and Wales will all have been watching the result of the Whitby referendum with ‘great interest’, and if successful, there could be more public votes.

St Ives in northern Cornwall voted for a second home ban six years ago, but the jury is still out on whether it has helped because house prices have remained high. The new house ban has also seen new developments pop up outside restricted areas of the town.

Cllr Kirkham said that Cornwall has enough holiday lets and second homes than to house all 22,000 people on the area’s waiting list – and the Government must devolve more powers to the county so they can clamp down on the issue.

She said: ‘We have a real crisis in Cornwall and we need more control over planning rules. Too much of the power is in the Government’s hands. They can solve this problem. But we need a suite of powers, not just a ban on second home owners buying new builds. In Wales they are doubling or even trebling council tax, a council tax loophole for second homes has not been properly closed and in Scotland there is a register of holiday lets and Airbnbs. We need that here’.

She added: ‘The people of Whitby will need to do more things to solve the problem’.

Meanwhile in Wales, tourism leaders have reacted with horror to confirmation of new occupancy rules for second homes and holiday lets.

From April 1, 2023, the Welsh Government will insist that self-catering properties are let for at least 182 days each year in a move critics say will ‘decimate’ the Welsh tourism industry. At the moment lets only have to pay the cheaper business rate if they are used for 70 days. But from next year they need to let them out for at least 182 days or will have to pay more expensive council tax.

Holiday lettings firm Finest Retreats, which promotes 29 holiday cottages in Wales, warned the challenging occupancy target will hit rural economies the hardest by driving up prices and making the country a ‘less attractive place to visit’.

Visit Cornwall’s chief executive Malcolm Bell told MailOnline that a ‘perfect storm of historical factors’ including Covid and the WFH revolution, years of investment in Cornwall’s infrastructure including its roads, airports and broadband, and low interest rates has caused city folk with inheritance money to splash their cash on ‘bricks and mortar’ in the South West.

He said: ‘We can’t just get mad at people coming down with all their money and shout at them. Instead, we need to get behind solutions to the problems we face as a community.

‘Yes, we don’t want too many people coming to these smaller towns and villages. It’s not wholly good for the local community, and it causes damage to the environment as well. But we don’t want this to flip the other way and cause anti-tourism. People down this way are generally more friendly than in other parts of the country, but they won’t be endlessly nice and polite.

‘At the moment, people are attacking the symptoms, not the disease. This has been caused by a perfect storm of historical factors.

‘One is the creation of a property-owning society which really expanded under Thatcher in the 1980s. Another is all this money that people have inherited, and they’ve looked at the market and seen that interest rates are low and the stock market is stable, and they figure it’s a good time to buy.

‘Then, Cornwall has become much more connected. There’s been a lot of investment in airports and roads, and we’ve got super-fast broadband too, which is attractive to a lot of people from cities looking to buy out cottages as second homes or to let out for holidays.

‘And then the big recent change has been Covid. I think a lot of people working from home for most of the last couple of years have looked at their lives and decided they want to keep working from home, or they want a better lifestyle more generally. 

‘So they’ve looked around and Cornwall is attractive to them. But now you have this situation where locals now see all these people with all this money coming down and buying up places, and the rage has grown.

‘It has become a lightning rod for all their other grievances.’

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