13 Mar 23

A prominent property industry figure says he backs higher council tax for unlet and vacant second homes but warns that Airbnb hosts should not be hammered the same way.

National Association of Property Buyers spokesman Jonathan Rolande says: “We’d be 100 percent behind elevated council tax for second homes that are unlet and often left vacant. They contribute little to the local economy and frankly, if people want somewhere of their own to pop to for a holiday, they should pay for it. 

“After All, the rest of us must stay in a hotel so there is little downside.”

But he continues: ““However, those that are let AirBnb-style are different. Like them or loathe them, they bring visitors to the area. Visitors who use local shops, pubs, restaurants and tourist attractions. Run as a business, the owner will be paying tax on income after expenses. 

“In these cases increased council tax could actually damage this market and much could be reclaimed anyway via the owner’s tax return. The net gain would be tiny and the threat to local tourism, competing as it is once again with sunnier, more exotic locations could be significant.”

About half a million properties in England – around two per cent of housing stock – are classified as ‘second homes’ and many families use them when they are working away from their main home, or for weekends or holidays. 

Local authorities have been able to charge the full rate of council tax on second homes since 2013, but latest figures show that about 10,000 of them still get a council tax discount. 

There’s been a recent trend for councils in England to announce they will double the council tax for some or all of these second homes, providing national legislation is passed by the Westminster Parliament in the near future.

In Wales local authorities will be able to charge a council tax premium on second homes of up to 300 percent from next month. 

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