Woman holds sit-down protest after London property firm bought entire Welsh village for £1m and hiked rents by 60 per cent as she vows: ‘I would rather die than leave’
- Sara Lewis, 55, fears she is being driven out of her historic country village
- Aberllefenni, a historic village, was bought by a London property company
A woman is carrying out a daily sit-down protest against massive rent hikes – after a London property company snapped up her entire Welsh village for £1million.
Sara Lewis, 55, fears she is being driven out of Aberllefenni after all 16 homes were bought up in an investment deal.
She claimed her rent went up from £300 a month to £500 – but vowed she would ‘rather die than leave’ after living in her beloved community for 22 years.
The historic village – built for workers at a former Welsh slate mine – was bought by a London-based real estate company.
Families revealed they are facing a 60 per cent rise in rent prices following the sale in Aberllefenni near Machynlleth, North Wales.
The 16 houses were finally sold after six years on the market to property developers Walsh Investment Properties.
Sara Lewis, 55, fears she is being driven out of her historic country village in Wales
Aberllefenni, a historic village, was bought by a London property company
Sara says her rent has increased by £200 each month after the 16 former quarrymen’s homes were bought.
She has now launched a protest against her landlords by sitting on a village bench outside in the cold despite suffering with lung condition emphysema.
Sara said: ‘I would rather die than leave this village. I’ve lived here for 22 years, my support network is here, my family is from here. It’s become my haven and I don’t want to live anywhere else.
‘I believe I am going to be made homeless because I cannot get help,’ she explained.
‘My Universal Credit covers £300. The council will not be paying the extra cost. I’ve been told I’ll need to pay it myself with my benefits but I can’t afford £200 extra a month.’
Sara, who can’t work due to her illness, has applied to Gwynedd council for discretionary funding support.
But she claims she has now been ‘told no’ by the council regarding any financial support.
The 16 houses were finally sold after six years on the market to property developers Walsh Investment Properties
Families revealed they are facing a 60 per cent rise in rent prices following the sale in Aberllefenni near Machynlleth, North Wales
She is now staging a one-woman protest on the village bench to highlight her plight – knowing it could make her seriously ill.
She said: ‘I’m sitting on the bench every day because I’d rather make myself ill than live elsewhere. I’m at the end of my tether.
‘In protest I am going to sit outside on the bench every day knowing that doing that will make me extremely ill, but if I am going to be made homeless then I would rather die sooner than later.’
The village was previously owned by the family of John Lloyd, of Wincilate Limited, since the 1950s.
The row of 9 houses, with additional cottages, were built in the 1700s as accommodation for quarrymen and their families.
The rent rose by three per cent per year under the previous owners – some who have lived in some houses for more than 20 years.
A woman is carrying out a daily sit-down protest against massive rent hikes – after a London property company snapped up her entire Welsh village for £1million
Chris Walsh, of Walsh Investment Properties, said: ‘Most of the properties have been paying a low rent for a number of years, unfortunately this is not sustainable in the current economy.
‘We feel it is fair and reasonable to charge a market rent. All properties were surveyed in January 2023 to enable us to plan any required upgrade works.
‘We believe this will allow us to gain a better understanding of each individual tenant’s situation. This direct approach should alleviate any miscommunication and misunderstanding.
‘This will also allow us to build a strong and sustainable rapport with all of our tenants.’
A spokesman for Gwynedd council said: ‘We are committed to supporting any individual facing difficulties as a result of the housing crisis. All applications for Discretionary Housing Funding presented to us are assessed by our benefits team as a matter of urgency.
‘Whilst we cannot comment in detail on individual cases, we can confirm that this particular application is currently being assessed.’
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