York’s housing market is an ‘out-of-control racket’ pushing people into poverty as landlords name their price, says MP
Ordinary people cannot afford to live in York thanks to a housing ‘racket’ that is out of control, one of York’s MPs has said.
Rachael Maskell says spiralling rents and house prices are trapping residents in poverty while estate agents and landlords “can literally name their price”.
And the problem is getting worse, as incomers from London force up house prices and the city is “overrun by Airbnbs, holiday lets and second homes”.
The York Central Labour MP told a Parliamentary debate on affordable housing that in York, “affordability is completely unaffordable in York”.
Here are six key things Ms Maskell said about different aspects of the housing market in York.
1. York’s housing crisis is getting worse
“When I bought my first house, the housing affordability ratio was three. In 2019, in York, it was 8.3. Right now it is 11.7,” the MP said.
“In York it is growing faster than anywhere else in the north, or indeed, I understand, in the country, at 14%.”
2. Incomers are fuelling spiralling prices
The move to working from home, brought about by the pandemic, is having a big impact. “York is a very desirable place to live and, with new ways of working, people now realise they can live in York and still have a base in London,” Ms Maskell told Westminster Hall.
She added: “As the luxury and investment markets increase, the housing market is heating up further. I understand that estate agents can, and do, now name their price and that investors see opportunity.”
3. Rents are unaffordable here
“Housing poverty is a reality for vast swathes of my constituents,” the MP said.
“In the private rental sector, behind Bath, Brighton and Oxford, York is the fourth least-affordable place to rent outside of London – and the least affordable in the north.
“When 61% of renters have no savings, a future of home ownership is completely unrealistic. This traps more people in housing poverty.”
4. Social housing is reducing…
Housing should be seen as a human right, not an asset, she argued. “York’s social housing numbers have also been falling, but at the same time, the waiting lists have increased threefold since I have been an MP. Affordability is completely unaffordable in York.”
Over the past ten years “City of York Council has only built an average of 36 affordable homes a year, and has seen a net loss of its social housing stock,” she said.
“Over 200 of these units lie empty, awaiting repairs, but the council is struggling to recruit the necessary skills to bring them back into use because traders cannot afford to live in York.”
5. …And so is York’s private housing stock
Ms Maskell said: “York is being absolutely overrun by Airbnbs, holiday lets and second homes. Over a quarter of the housing stock is owned by private landlords, who can literally name their price.”
6. As a result, people are living in poor conditions
“Of those who are lucky enough to rent, many are living in box bedrooms—I am talking about whole families—or damp, mouldy homes. That is completely unacceptable.”
7. And York is losing key workers
“We cannot recruit skilled workers, the tourism and hospitality sectors are struggling to function and, while social care has not been able to recruit for some time, we are now seeing graduate professions, such as working in the NHS, coming under significant strain. People cannot afford to live in York, but we need their skills.”
Ms Maskell said the local planning process needs to be refreshed – “so it is not just about numbers but about looking closely at tenure and what is needed to join up the housing and economic needs of an area”.
She also criticised ‘land banking’, where developers sit on land without building new homes on it.
And the MP finished by saying this: “Today housing is a driver of inequality, and housing is too important to be used in such a way.
“We need to make sure that we build homes that people can afford to live in, and end this racket in the housing market.”