Tenants living on a large estate in Cornwall are being evicted after decades as administrators have decided to sell their properties.
The four properties – located on the 6,000 acre Port Eliot estate, in St. Germans, Cornwall – have been brought to market by the management team of the Estate Trustees at Savills.
The tenants each received Article 21 notice on March 24 – extended to three months instead of the usual two-month eviction period. One resident called the decision “completely unexpected” and “couldn’t have come at a worse time.”
Some residents have lived in their homes for 20 years and Cornwall itself is gripped by a housing crisis.
Savills stated that all those who had canceled had an insured lease – meaning it can cancel at any time for no reason.
One of those affected said: ‘I have been a tenant in Port Eliot for many, many years and have lived in a few properties and we understood at the time that the trust would not sell the properties.
The four properties, located on the 6,000-acre Port Eliot estate, in St. Germans, have been marketed by the management team of the Estate Trustees in Savills
The Grade II listed Port Eliot House is the oldest continuously inhabited house in England and dates back to the 6th century
Peregrine Nicholas Eliot, 10th Count of St. Germans, died in 2016 at age 75
What is a Section 21 Notice?
Landlords can use a Section 21 notice to evict tenants after a fixed-term lease has ended or after a lease with no fixed end date – also known as a “periodic” lease.
In England, under Section 21 notice, tenants must be given at least two months’ notice to vacate their property.
Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), you must have given your tenant a longer notice period if you cancel between March 26, 2020 and September 30, 2021.
“Over time, a few weeks ago, we got a message from Section 21 through our letterbox saying they’re selling our house.
“It was a no-fault eviction and basically we had three months to live and move elsewhere, so I’m quite sad because we’ve plowed a lot of money into the house. We have invested a lot of time to make it a beautiful place and the estate will in principle benefit from that.’
She explained that she shared her story – assuming it was a single case – on a local Facebook page, after which things “flew in a balloon.” She had approached many other people to explain that they too were being deported.
“Me and my neighbor are being evicted,” she said. “And I know another person who’s only moving because they bought a house and I’m pretty sure they’ll sell that too. It could be a whole street going.’
She added that she knows it will not ultimately belong to her, but with the housing crisis it will undoubtedly leave people without a home to go to.
“We were hoping that the Duchy of Cornwall might consider buying some more property here, as in the past, but we don’t really know what will happen yet,” she continued.
The house is set in a 6000 acre estate which extends into the neighboring villages of Tideford, Trerulefoot and Polbathic. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Eliot family invested significantly in the estate, building farms, fishermen’s cottages, and other homes all over the country.
Many of these homes are still part of the estate to this day and are rented out to local residents and family friends.
Italian-style outdoor pool on the Port Eliot . Estate
The Orangery In the Gardens of Port Eliot, St. Germans
Cornwall Council data shows where the county’s 13,500 second homes were distributed in 2018
Some homes have been sold over the years. The Duchy of Cornwall Estate bought the southern part of the Port Eliot Estate in 2014 as part of the largest purchase of farmland in Cornwall since the Prince of Wales became Duke of Cornwall in 1952.
The Duchy of Cornwall owns none of the properties currently being sold.
Another affected tenant said they were “plucked out” after 13 years and were “heartbroken” as a result. A third said they were struggling to find a home with the ongoing housing crisis and having pets, making finding a home even more challenging in the current climate.
A Savills spokesperson said: ‘The Port Eliot Estate has decided to sell a small number of its properties occupied with guaranteed short-hold leases. The family tries to find alternative housing on the estate.
‘The tenants received a notice period on 25 March and the notice period has been extended to at least three months instead of the legal two months. The proceeds from the sale of these properties will enable reinvestment in the remaining Estate.’
There were some questions about who was actually responsible for the decision, with some arguing that Savills had full management responsibilities of the estate, but that has been confirmed to be untrue. Savills manages the Port Eliot Estate on behalf of its trustees. Savills is therefore the first point of contact for estate management questions, but does ask for instructions from the trustees.
Port Eliot Estate declined to comment, saying the sale of the properties is being handled by Savills.
Escape to the countryside: House prices of £2million properties in rural areas are rising fastest in a decade
House prices of £2million properties in rural areas have risen at the fastest pace in a decade as wealthy people in the UK’s cities seek refuge in rural areas.
Homes in the South West, the Cotswolds and Scotland were the most popular and luxurious homes in Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Norfolk.
While rural houses have increased in value by an average of £111,000 (5.5 per cent), a comparably priced flat or house in central London fell by an average of £8,000 (0.4 per cent) last year.
Savills researchers believe the change in house prices came when the coronavirus lockdown meant people “seeked a change in lifestyle and recognized the relative value of the offer”.
The price shifts were recorded in the Savills prime house price index, which last year recorded the largest growth since 2010.
In the rest of London’s leading market (defined as the top five percent of the market), where £2 million would normally provide an additional 1,000 square meters of accommodation and more garden space, profits averaged £36,000.
Lucian Cook, Savills’ head of residential research, said at the time: “The unique circumstances of 2020 have led to a surge in market activity at the high end of the housing market.
“This has supported prices and produced some unexpected gains, but it has not led to a runaway price increase.”