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Activists take aim at holiday home owners in tourist areas

The Generation Rent activist group claims holiday homes are eroding the supply of available properties in key tourist areas. 

It claims 80 per cent of the growth in holiday homes during and since the pandemic is concentrated in 25 local authorities. In these areas, 72,754 new homes were built or converted in 2019-22, but 20,803 or 29 per cent were lost by becoming commercial holiday lets or second homes.

In seven areas - including parts of the Lake District, North Yorkshire and Devon - the growth in holiday homes effectively cut new supply by more than half, and Generation Rent claims this is “making it harder for councils to accommodate their local populations affordably.”


Government consultations on registering holiday lets and requiring owners to have planning permission to let to tourists close tomorrow. Generation Rent is calling for powers for local authorities to license holiday lets and cap their numbers, and for the withdrawal of tax breaks, in order to reverse their recent proliferation.

It claims that in 2019-22, 682,235 new homes were added to England’s housing stock. Over the same period, there was an increase in the number of homes registered as second homes or commercial holiday lets of 26,043. That represents 4.0 per cent of the growth in housing stock nationally.

But it says the growth of the holiday home sector was highly concentrated: 80 per cent of the increase in the numbers of second homes and holiday lets happened in just 25 local authorities.

The growth in holiday homes in Copeland, Cumbria, was 407, or 96 per cent of the 426 homes added to the housing stock. 

Other holiday hotspots where the growth of holiday homes is undermining efforts to boost supply for locals are Torridge in Devon (63 per cent), South Lakeland in Cumbria (63 per cent), Scarborough (56 per cent), Richmondshire in  North Yorkshire (49 per cent) and North Norfolk (42 per cent).

Cornwall, where eight per cent of homes are second homes or holiday lets, fared slightly better with the growth in holiday homes equivalent to 27 per cent of new stock.

The government has proposed to set up registration schemes for tourist accommodation and to require owners of holiday lets to apply for planning permission. 

But this isn’t enough for Generation Rent which claims that existing holiday lets are set to get automatic permission, “which is likely to increase their value and so will make it difficult to bring them back into the residential sector.”

Dan Wilson Craw, the activist group’s acting director, says: “The unregulated and undertaxed holiday let sector is out of control. It has taken homes away from locals who grew up in holiday hotspots and people who want to work in the tourist industries, making these areas unsustainable. A large part of the solution to high rents is more housebuilding, but locals won’t see the benefits of this if houses continue to leak into the holiday homes sector.

“It is welcome that the government is looking at ways to regulate holiday lets, but there is a huge risk that the proposals will lock in the sector’s recent growth and make it harder to bring down rents by switching properties back into residential use.”

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  • icon

    They need to ask themselves why so many properties have been swapped over to short term letting. The solution is fairer taxation for landlords renting long term to families etc


    100% correct. I’ve converted 7 apartments of mine and have purchased few holiday lets too in the last few years. At the same time I stopped purchasing BTL’s and sold several off as well. Remove section 24 and I’ll go back to BTL simple as that!

  • icon

    Now I wonder why we are moving standard let properties over to short term 🤔🤔 erm….. No, it’s foxed me 😂😂

  • icon

    As a resident of one of the areas quoted and a recent entrant to the holiday let business I have to say that my cottage is now my only income. After having worked full time and very hard all of my life in my home area and having had my well earned retirement age extended, this is the only option open to me to allow a reduction in my working hours to enable me to help with my grandchildrens care and immobile elderly almost blind mothers care.
    The biggest problem in these areas is the planning authorities preventing new build for local occupancy but allowing building for new holiday lets. There have been and still are many opportunities to allow either new build or renovations for local occupancy both private and/or social housing. These areas are being held back and discriminated against allowing conversion of their own buildings or using their own land to build on for their families to live in or as a diversification project holiday let to bring income in to the family businesses to help pay the wages for their families. Many businesses are having to close either permanently or part time due to not being able to get staff.
    Another issue is the allocation of any housing which becomes available being allocated to non earners who are available but refuse to work to help struggling businesses. They could work during the hours that any children are at school however the benefits system makes it too attractive not to work.
    Don’t automatically assume that holiday lets are bad for these areas. Provided that the owners are not allowed to use them at all as opposed to enjoying an extremely generous allocation of allowable usage without paying taxes or rates , holiday lets contribute to the local economy and to the well being and are the main income streams of many existing residents.
    Just allow more building .. “levelling up “ should include providing housing in the pretty areas as well as the cities and towns !


    Agree with everything apart from banning owners from using their own property. Most holiday home owners use their own holiday time for essential maintenance and refurbishment work.

    In any case all businesses, shops, garages,pubs etc. can supply their owners, so why not holiday homes?

    Holiday home owners also contribute to the local economy when they are there as well as giving work to local trades, cleaners, agencies etc.

  • jeremy clarke

    You couldn't make it up could you? Organisation that lobbies against private landlords then gets upset when private landlords give up and starts chasing them at their new business. If gen rent shelter et al didn't exist, there would not be a problem with the PRS!


    But of course, this is the next sector that governments will be looking at, to make them unviable due to massive overregulation and taxes.
    They will leave no stone unturned to eliminate the last vestiges of private wealth.
    The Tories are just 'Labour light' and neither party is on the side of landlords, or indeed anyone who wishes to make a better life for themselves.


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