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London estate agent praises Welsh Government’s attempts to get to grip with housing crisis

08 Mar 2022 3 minute read
Picture by Paul Wilkinson (CC BY 2.0).

A London estate agent has praised the Welsh Government’s attempts to get to grips with Wales’ housing crisis.

North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf, who employs 22 people as part of his business there, said that the housing market in Wales had been inflated “for too long” by second homes.

He warned however that new measures should not reduce the supply of houses on the market, which would lead to higher house prices.

Last week the Welsh Government announced that the tax of second homes was set to be raised to 300%. Councils across Wales will be able set the premium at any level up to the maximum, from April 2023.

Jeremy Leaf said: “For too long, prices in picturesque Wales have likely been inflated by second-home owners and those seeking to let their properties for holidaymakers – many from London and other major cities – which has pushed them even further beyond the reach of locals.

“Any policy which seeks to make more properties available to purchase for local people at affordable prices should be welcomed,” he told the Daily Mail.

But he warned that while the proposals were “laudable” it was often the case that “markets never work as simply as that”.

“The Welsh Government needs to be careful it isn’t creating a larger problem if the change contributes to a reduction in supply, pushing property prices even higher,” he said.

‘Out of reach’

The Welsh Government has said that the aim of the tax rise will be to tackle the negative impact vacant houses, holiday lets and soaring property prices are having on local communities.

It is part of a series of measures set out in the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.

The maximum premium councils can charge at the moment is 100%, which means the new measure could lead to a possible tax rise of 200%.

It will be possible to apply different rates for second homes and long-term empty dwellings.

Plaid Cymru’s Lead Designated Member Sian Gwenllian MS said at the time of the announcement: “It is clear that we as a country are facing a housing crisis. So many people cannot afford to live in their local areas, and the situation has worsened during the pandemic.

“These changes will make a difference, enabling councils to respond to their local circumstances and start to close the loophole in the current law. It’s a first but important step on a journey towards a new housing system that ensures that people have the right to live in their community.”

Climate change minister Julie James said: “We want people to be able to live and work in their local communities, but we know rising house prices are putting them out of reach of many people, exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis we are facing.

“There is no easy answer or quick-fix solution. This is a complex problem that requires a wide range of actions.

“We continue to carefully consider further measures that could be introduced, and these changes are the latest steps we are taking to increase the availability of homes and ensure a fair contribution is made.”

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