A TRENDY market town has declared a 'housing crisis' after rental rates soared, pricing locals out.

Frome Town Council says the average price of rent in the town has risen to £1,499 a month - fifty percent of the average local salary.

Councillor Polly Lamb, who proposed the emergency declaration, says locals are being driven out further by Frome being named as one of Britain's nicest towns.

She blames an influx of visitors and second-home owners from London to community - known for its vibrant local market.

Cllr Lamb told the BBC: "Rents have skyrocketed and that is pushing out local people who have been here all their lives."

Today locals described the problems of rental prices there.

Sophie Mullins, 36, owner of zero-waste refills shop, said: “I sold my house so that I could open my own independent business in Frome, therefore I was looking to rent.

''I managed to find a property and I was in there for about two years.

“We ended up getting very difficult neighbours and I was pregnant, so we were looking to move.

''We were looking for a rental for about four months with no luck. We had dogs too, so it was extremely difficult to find a landlord that would take them as well.

“We only managed to find a property because our friends had neighbours who were moving out and passed our contact details directly onto the landlord.

''That was the only way we could find somewhere that wasn’t crazy expensive or had already gone by the time we’d rung up to book a viewing.

“There was one instance where my partner went to view a property and we were deliberating over it, he rang up to speak to the estate agent about it – and they told him that someone moving to the area from London had bid more, offering £300 more per month and were willing to pay a year up front. There was just no way we could afford that.”

Somerset County Gazette: Shop owner Sophie Mullins was looking for a place to rent for around four months.Shop owner Sophie Mullins was looking for a place to rent for around four months. (Image: Jon Mills, SWNS)

Lianna Denwood, 23, shop assistant, told of how she and her partner have moved back to their parents’ homes because they could not afford rent whilst saving to buy a house.

She said: “I moved out of Bristol after finishing uni and went to work in London.

''When I finished that job I came home, but there was no point in going and renting somewhere as I wouldn’t be able to set myself up and get into the housing market so I decided to move home.

“My partner, who was also working in London, decided to move home too because his rent skyrocketed by a grand there.

''We’re both living in our separate households and we wanted to move out as soon as possible, but renting isn’t a possibility because if we want to buy in the future, our deposit money, our savings, everything, would be going on the rent.

“When you’re not earning enough, or earning a lot but only enough to cover your living expenses, you’re never going to get to a point where you can own your own property.”

Somerset County Gazette: Property developer Connor Raudsepp hopes to put the rundown flat on the rental market once it has been done up.Property developer Connor Raudsepp hopes to put the rundown flat on the rental market once it has been done up. (Image: Jon Mills, SWNS)

An anonymous local resident, aged 41, said: “You can’t find anywhere that is affordable.

''Anywhere with an extra bedroom, which is what we need, is just completely out of our price range. We are currently renting a two bed and we need a three bed.

“The speed of which properties get let, when occasionally there are homes we think we could push ourselves to afford, we go to book a viewing and it’s already gone.

''The speed in which they get snapped up is ridiculous.

“There’s a handful of properties available in a price range we may be able to stretch to.

''Everything else is up and above [what we can afford], we work hard to pay for what we get at the moment.

''We’re just going to have to wait it out in our tiny house and hope things change.”

Local property developer Connor Raudsepp, 26, recently purchased a rundown one-bed flat Frome with a business partner – and hopes to put it on the rental market once complete.

He said: “We’re not going to skip over that there’s profit in property development, the main reason I’m in it is for profit.

“However, this place has been empty and is going to serve a purpose in the future – putting a roof over somebody’s head.

“There are a lot of properties that are empty that could be turned into homes, which would increase supply on the market and ease rental costs.

“We’re probably going to be all in for about £120,000 and it’ll be rented out at market value.

''I think that’s fair, it’s the only thing you can do – because of rising rates and stuff you can’t do it for any cheaper because you’re not going to make any money and all of this effort would be pointless.

“We’re not taking this money and then running off to The Bahamas, it’s going to be invested in another development somewhere else – another place being brought back to the market.”

Ironically though, rent rises are driving many of the artisan small businesses and cafes that define the town out of business.

Somerset County Gazette: A small one-person flat can cost over one thousand pounds a month.A small one-person flat can cost over one thousand pounds a month. (Image: Jon Mills, SWNS)

One local business owner, Sarah Wingrove, 29, told the BBC that despite being born in Frome, she still lives with her parents due to the cost of homes.

She said: "Even though I work a full-time job and freelance as a model, the mortgage people say I don't earn enough for a house in Frome."

Local artist and renter Summer Auty, 24, told the BBC that she has had to live in her van due to the cost of rent.

She said: "I can't afford anything in Frome, so I'm living in my van.

"It's ridiculous. We need a complete redistribution of wealth, it's awful all the big homes lying empty, all the land we cannot use."

Rented rooms in the town are now known to go for as much as £500 a month, while a small one-person flat can cost over one thousand pounds a month.