Rental situation in South Holland is now ’emergency’ with cheapest house share in Spalding costing £385pcm while most expensive in Weston with £1,500pcm
Renters in our area are finding themselves in a housing emergency as they battle to find a place to call home.
While supply levels are incredibly low, demand is extremely high, with lettings agents reporting the highest levels of applicants they’ve ever seen.
According to the Office for National Statistics(ONS), between October 2021 and September 2022 the median monthly rent for the country was £800 – the highest ever recorded.
While South Holland comes way under that at £540, it is still above the median of the surrounding areas – with Boston at £538, Fenland at £525 and South Kesteven at £450.
However, the current picture seen by this paper demonstrates that, for many people, the amount paid to rent a home is way above the ONS average.
House shares in Spalding are priced anywhere from £385 per month (single room town centre, part furnished, all bills included) to £542 (single room, close to town centre, modern, all bills included).
Meanwhile, you could bag yourself a large five bedroom detached ‘character’ house in Weston for £1,500 a month, or a more modest terraced two bedroom house in a Sutton Bridge cul-de-sac for £685.
Research from housing and homelessness charity Shelter, which says we are now ‘dealing with a housing emergency’, shows that one in three renters are spending at least half of their household income on rent. That is particularly marked here, where wages sit more than £40 a week below the national average.
South Holland District Councillor Rob Gibson, who represents the St Paul’s ward of Spalding, fears people on benefits will struggle to cover their bills.
He said: “Take a house share for £385. Housing benefit is a maximum of £288 per month for a single room for someone who is aged 35 and under.
“That means they’ll have to find more money – probably cutting into their benefits – to cover the rent, leaving them with even less for food and everything else.
“While utility bills are included in that rental cost, the cost of food is going up so it all eats away and leaves people with very little to live on.”
Securing a property in the first instance is already a problem, with high demand battling against low stock levels.
At the time of writing, in the PE11 area there were only 35 properties available for let, with 32 of those in Spalding.
However, the PE12 area fares even worse, with just 24 properties up for rent.
Just eight of those can be found in Holbeach and only two in Long Sutton and Crowland respectively.
It’s even tougher to find a home in our villages- with only four properties up for let in Sutton Bridge, and only one in Donington, Gosberton, Moulton Chapel and Pinchbeck.
Elsewhere, there aren’t any rental properties.
Coun Gibson added: “The other issue is how quickly properties are snapped up.
“People are calling up for viewings but even though the property might have only gone on the market a couple of hours before they’re already gone. There’s such high demand that it’s driving up the prices.”
Landlords are passing on costs says Spalding estate agent
Landlords are having to pass on rising costs to tenants as they too face increased bills.
In what could be described as a vicious cycle, rising rents are often a product of the bills faced by landlords which are also skyrocketing.
Aaron Spencer, of Sedge Estate Agents, says this is also impacting stock levels.
He said: “We are seeing more applicants than ever before – it’s very unusual at the moment. It did go quieter over Christmas but it’s picking up again now and more properties are coming to the market.
“As soon as a property goes on the market there’s instantly interest in it – it’s very busy.
“Agents want to get the higher rental yield for their landlords – we all do – but we also want to make sure that tenants can afford it too.
“Landlords are seeing that their costs have gone up; their mortgages have increased and it’s not impossible to see in some cases that the rates have gone up more than the rent.
“There have been a lot of tax changes for landlords too so it’s actually costing them to rent their properties out. We have seen some landlords look at selling their properties because of this too.
“The Government seems to be doing all they can to pick on the landlord, especially as this year we will be seeing the Renters’ Reform Bill giving tenants even more rights.”
However, Aaron says it’s important for agents and landlords to be sensible when it comes to naming a price.
He said: “I look at some of the prices properties are going up for and I can’t believe it myself. But then you look back after a while and see it’s still not rented out.
“If an agent has a three bedroom house on the market for £1,500, there’s got to be something special about it. Perhaps some land or outbuildings. We keep rent in line with the market value but you’ve got to be sensible about it.
“Tenants are people and while it should be profitable, we should also be human about it. People are not thinking about the implications for the individual.
“If you get a tenant who is always strapped for cash because they’re paying these rents, the landlord is also going to end up without. The wages around here are what they are and people only have a certain amount coming in. We try to work with the tenant and the landlord to find a solution for everyone.”
‘We really need more housing’
A councillor is calling for more houses to be built to meet market demand.
South Holland District Councillor Christine Lawton, portfolio holder for HRA and Private Sector Housing, says more appropriate housing for potential renters is needed across the district to meet demand.
She said: “I am always astounded by the prices of private rents. How young people can manage it I don’t know.
“We seem to have a supply of three bedroom houses but young couples without children don’t want those.
“The problem for me is that we are not building enough houses. Developers want to build three or four bedroom executive houses but the market wants one or two bedroom houses.
“Understandably, when people can’t afford the costs we pick up the consequences. It’s a problem which concerns us, as it does authorities all over the country.”