According to new research, a rise in the number of homes listed as holiday lets is crippling the region's housing market.
Countryside charity CPRE says the problem is most acute in staycation hotspots, where homes previously available to rent to local people have been switched to short-stay holiday rentals.
Countryside charity CPRE says roughly fifteen thousand families are on social housing waiting lists in Cornwall, where there is a similar number of holiday homes.
The charity also found eleven thousand new short-term rentals have been listed in Devon since 2016.
"Hard-working people are suffering."
Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, said: “Across our most traditional rural communities, from the beaches of Cornwall to the lakes of Cumbria, homes that used to be rented to local families sit empty for much of the year.
"More people are pushed onto social housing waiting lists, which have been stretched to breaking point by years of under-investment.
"Hard working people are suffering, and they will not easily forgive a government that promised to level them up if it leaves them falling through the cracks of a broken system.
“It’s clear the government needs to act fast to avert a growing housing crisis. With the cost of living set to hammer people’s finances in the coming year, this is a problem that’s quickly getting out of hand.
"There simply has to be a government response to the fact that our rural housing supply is disappearing into an unregulated short-term rentals market that simply didn’t exist six years ago.
"Ministers must introduce tighter controls on second homeownership, including higher council tax on second homes and the requirement for short term lets to have planning permission.”
A separate analysis by CPRE found that the demand for social housing was growing nearly six times faster than the supply rate in rural areas.
The backlog of low-income families needing accommodation would take 121 years to clear at current rates.
The latest figures show that close to 9,000 households were added to social housing waiting lists in 88 rural local authority areas between 2019 and 2020.
But just over 1,450 homes were provided
The CPRE also said that the definition of ‘affordable’ must be changed in national planning policy, with rents tied to local incomes rather than market prices.
Mr Truman said: “To level up our rural communities, changes to planning law and policy should be committed to in the government’s forthcoming Planning Bill, requiring at least one new genuinely affordable home for every market home built.
“In many areas, social housing waiting lists could be drastically reduced or even eliminated if the number of properties advertised for short term let were available for local families instead.”