'I feel stuck' - the reality of the South West's housing crisis

ITV West Country's Sam Blackledge has met people in Plymouth struggling to find somewhere to live

The South West's housing crisis is worsening according to new figures, with almost thirty people applying for every rental property, and rates of homelessness at an all-time high.Estate agents say the situation is becoming overwhelming, while politicians are trying to come up with solutions for what they call a 'perfect storm'.

Stevie Jay, from Plymouth, is looking to move to a bigger flat but keeps being turned away.

She says many landlords will not accept her dog, a husky named Charlie, but she is also finding the market is saturated with too many applicants and not enough properties.

"When they say 'no dogs', I just put the phone down," Stevie said. "That's my attitude now. Every single one - 'Oh, forget it.'

Andrew Bullivant says the number of people competing for each flat is 'overwhelming'. Credit: ITV News

"They just immediately say no, because they think we will wreck carpets and walls. Just like when families have children. 'Oh, no, we're not taking that, we just want working people.' Even if I get a viewing, I'm not going to get excited about it.""There's nothing I can do, no-one is saying yes to me and my dog. So I just feel stuck."

According to new research from RightMove, the average number of people applying to view each rental property in the South West has risen from seven in 2019 to 27 last year.

At the same time, landlords are leaving the sector. So that means more prospective renters like Stevie chasing fewer properties - leading to a highly competitive environment.

Andrew Bullivant, from Atwell Martin estate agents, said: "I think what's of most concern is simply the sheer number of applicants that we're getting for every single property that we make available to let.

"To give you an example, a property we put live on the January 9, we had to close the marketing of that property by January 11th, we had 59 enquiries.

"It's a two-bedroom apartment close to the city centre, with no parking. Just the sheer wealth of numbers coming forward, frankly, can be overwhelming for the staff in the office who are dealing with them.

"But obviously we can only rent that property to one person. And when you're dealing with 59 enquiries, unfortunately there are 58 people who are not able to rent that property and it's very difficult to deal with those numbers."

Cllr Chris Penberthy says the council is expecting thousands of people to ask for help with housing over the coming year. Credit: ITV News

With housing at a premium, homelessness in Plymouth is getting worse.

Plymouth City Council is planning to spend millions of pounds buying up new properties for families - but that may only be a drop in the ocean.Housing portfolio holder Cllr Chris Penberthy said: "The number of people presenting to us at risk of homelessness has doubled in the last two years.

"So we think we'll get about 4,000 enquiries this year from people who are at risk of homelessness.

"That might be tenancies coming to an end, Section 21 (no fault) eviction notices, or other things like that.

"We'll do what we can to prevent people becoming homeless, but inevitably not all of them are able to be prevented. It's a bit of a perfect storm which is impacting on anyone who's trying to move or is forced to move house at the moment."