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In recent weeks, Michael Gove hasn’t exactly endeared himself to property owners. First, he dismayed landlords by announcing proposed buy-to-let reforms. These are set to end ‘no-fault’ evictions and prevent discrimination against benefits claimants. They will even force landlords to accept tenants with pets. Now the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has the second home owner in his sights.

According to The Telegraph and the Daily Mail, Mr Gove is drawing up plans that would ban second home owners from advertising short-term holiday lets on websites such as Airbnb. He also aims to give regional mayors the power to prevent people from letting out second homes for fewer than 90 days. Anyone wishing to do so would have to apply for planning permission under change of use.

Why is government targeting the second home owner?

Government is targeting second homes because it believes holiday home ownership has a negative impact in many areas. Some tourist hotspots have significant numbers of holiday homes, which has pushed up house prices. This has made it difficult for local people to get a foot on the property ladder.

In this respect, government thinking chimes with that of many of the affected communities. Earlier this month, the parish council in Whitby held a ‘referendum’ on limiting the sale of second homes in the town. 93% of participants voted to confine the sale of new-build and additional housing to people who are full-time residents. A similar poll in Mevagissy, Cornwall, had a 90% vote in favour of restricting home sales.

While ‘referendums’ like these aren’t legally binding, organisers believe they will help local communities have a stronger influence on planning decisions.

More bad news for second home owners

The new proposals to crack down on second home ownership are not the first. For example, government is already introducing new holiday let rules. These are designed to restrict the numbers of people accessing small business rates relief and make more pay council tax on their second homes. From April 2023, you won’t be able to get a second home assessed for business rates unless it is available for letting for 140 days in the previous and coming years, plus was actually let for at least 70 days in the previous year.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is upfront about its position on second home ownership. A spokesman has said:

“We’re taking action to combat the adverse impact that second homes can have on local communities – particularly in tourist areas such as Cornwall – by closing tax loopholes, introducing higher rates of stamp duty and empowering councils to apply a tax premium of up to 100% on second homes.”

Indeed, some councils such as Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, are already looking at imposing a 200% council tax on second home owners.

I’m a second home owner. What should I do next?

If you’re a second home owner, there’s no need to act immediately. However, it’s important to understand that owning a second home is likely to become more burdensome in coming years. If you’re a THP client, your account manager will be able to talk you through your options. However, our instinct is that many people will abandon second home ownership altogether – or buy property abroad.

Need further advice on any of the topics being discussed? Get in touch and see how we can help.

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About Jon Pryse-Jones

Since joining THP in 1978, Jon Pryse-Jones has been hands on with every area of the business. Now specialising in strategy, business planning, and marketing, Jon remains at the forefront of the growth and development at THP.

An ideas man, Jon enjoys getting the most out of all situations, “I act as a catalyst for creative people and encourage them to think outside the box,” he says, “and I’m not afraid of being confrontational. It often leads to a better result for THP and its clients.”

Jon’s appreciation for THP extends to his fellow team members and the board.  “They really know how to run a successful business,” he says.  He’s keen on IT and systems development as critical to success, and he continues to guide THP to be at the cutting edge and effective.

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