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Expert stands up for holiday lets after attacks on second homes

An insurance chief with expertise in the holiday lets sector has stood up for owners who let their properties to holidaymakers - and insists these are different to ‘general’ second home owners.

Phil Schofield of Schofields Insurance says second homes that are only used a couple of times a year and left empty in between are different from holiday lets that are rented out year-round, creating jobs and generating income for the community. 

However, he says recent moves by the UK government and those in some locations such as Wales and Scotland seem to be targeting second homes regardless of occupancy.


Schofield says: “There are valid arguments both for and against second homes, however, the argument is controversial and not what some local residents want.

“Local residents argue that they are affected by outsiders buying second homes, making it difficult for them to get on the property ladder, and that communities are also affected when holiday homes are bought and only used for a couple of weeks a year - contributing little the community.

“Since the pandemic, second home sales and property prices have soared due to people changing their lifestyle and buying second homes where they can work remotely.

“However, holiday lets bring opportunities by creating thousands of year-round jobs. Businesses thrive from tourism in their towns and travellers spending money. The UK tourism industry is expected to be worth more than £257 billion by 2025.”

The Welsh Government is increasing the maximum premium that local authorities can set for council tax on second homes from the current 100 per cent to a possible 200 per cent. 

And the criteria for self-catering holiday lets in Wales qualifying for business rates rather than higher cost council tax will also change from next year.

Currently, properties available to let for a minimum of 140 days in any 12-month period, and actually let for at least 70 days, pay business rates rather than council tax. But from April 2023, properties must be available to let for at least 252 days and actually let for at least 182 days in any 12-month period to qualify. 

If an owner cannot meet these thresholds, then they will be required to revert to paying council tax.

However, holiday let owners argue that the 182-day rule is unfair and unrealistic for most owners due to seasonality - many areas get few if any bookings in the autumn and winter periods

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    There are many different catagories of second home/additional property and currently the tax treatment is perverse.
    1. Holiday home/mid week crash pad for personal use only
    2. Holiday home - traditional property for holiday letting
    3. Holiday home - purpose built on holiday park for holiday letting.
    4. BTL - for standard long term letting
    5. Additional residential property - for a relative to live in long term

    Of those 2 is the most contentious but is the most favourably treated by the tax system.
    4 is the most socially necessary and is absolutely hammered.

    It would make life far simpler if all properties paid full council tax. If the government then wanted to give rebates to certain people such as single occupiers or students that would be easy enough. If local authorities wanted to charge extra licensing or registration fees for holiday homes that would also be easy enough.


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