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New tax system for Airbnbs and holiday lets being finalised by government

The government says it’s finalising plans for a new tax regime to apply to additional homes, and in particular those used for holiday and short lets.

There has been widespread criticism of some holiday home owners who have registered their additional properties as businesses, thus making them entitled to rate relief for small businesses.

Lord Greenhalgh, speaking at a House of Lords debate on second homes, has said: “The government have confirmed that we will legislate to require that holiday rentals meet an actual letting threshold before being assessed for business rates. This will ensure that only genuine holiday businesses can access the rate relief for small businesses. We will set out further details shortly in the government’s consultation response.”

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Later in the debate he said: “I point out that 96 per cent of second homes pay council tax in full, even though they may use local services only on an occasional basis. We believe that, in the sharing economy, where people run businesses and meet the threshold, it is reasonable for them not to pay council tax and to be subject to the business rates regime. No local authority has lost out, because they are covered by various grants in the business rates retention scheme.”

Various Labour peers spoke of what they claimed to be the need for tougher restrictions on second homes in general, and the tax that applied to them.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark, for example, said: “Holiday lets, as we know, can be much more lucrative than tenancies, with landlords frequently able to bring in the income they would get over the course of a whole year from tenants in just the summer months. Small business rate relief also means that they can pay very little tax. Should the Government not do more in this area, perhaps with a larger levy, to encourage landlords to rent to tenants instead?”

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And Lord Campbell-Savours, another Labour peer, contributed: “The proliferation of holiday lets in lakeland towns such as Ambleside, Windermere and Keswick is decimating the residential market for locals, particularly the young. The switch from council tax to a reduced business rate system will only aggravate the problem by further incentivising holiday letting. Is not the answer to this wider problem of drift to holiday letting to cap the number of holiday lets through the use of a combination of licensing and planning rules?”

Lord Greenhalgh told the House that HM Treasury was working the Valuation Office Agency to finalise the details of how and when the new tax regime would be implemented.

By Graham Norwood

Source: Letting Agent Today

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Number of UK Second Homes Climbs to 495,000

The number of second homes in the UK has risen by 30% over the last five years, to a record high of 495,000 in 2018/19, up from 382,000 in 2013/14, shows an analysis of the latest available MHCLG data by Houst. 451,000 of the 495,000, or 91%, of those second homes are located in England.

Houst co-founder and chief commercial officer Tom Jones said: “The likes of Airbnb and other platforms have revolutionised second home ownership and have certainly been one of the main driving forces behind second home ownership. Owners are now able to generate income from their second home extremely easily, almost all year round.”

He added that rising incomes, property’s continued draw as an asset class due to steadily rising house prices, and the shift to more flexible and remote working, are likely to have been the main reasons behind the rise in second home ownership over the period. The rise could also have been driven in part by the reduced value of the pound, making it more cost-effective to purchase property in the UK rather than in Europe, for example, that acts primarily as a holiday home.

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Houst also explains that the last decade has seen a boom in the use of technology-driven property lettings companies that have made it more attractive and far easier for second home owners to generate income from second residences.

He said: “One of the things, however, that second home owners still struggle with is the administration behind second homes. With staycations on the rise – even pre-pandemic – it’s almost like a second full-time job. Owners are constantly checking emails and enquiries from all the different platforms, ensuring the property is clean and ready for renters, and always looking ahead for opportunities to let out their properties.”

Houst says that the coronavirus pandemic, the time period of which the latest data from the MHCLG does not cover, presents some interesting questions for the future of second home ownership in the UK.

Jones added: “The restrictions on travel over the past year will have seen many second home owners debate the next steps for their second homes. Those that decide to continue letting properties – rather than selling or moving into them on a more permanent basis – will need to ensure they’re squeezing every pound out of their property.”


Source: Property Wire

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