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UK Minister at odds with Welsh Tories over second homes and holiday lets crack down

24 Apr 2023 3 minute read
Michael Gove Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary, image James Manning PA images

The UK Government’s Housing Minister has defended plans to crack down on second homes and holiday lets in tourist locations in England.

Michael Gove has put himself at odds with the Welsh Conservatives, who have vociferously opposed the introduction of restrictions in Wales as part of the co-operation agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.

On 1 April a package of measures was introduced in Wales to address the negative impact second homes and holiday lets can have on the availability and affordability of housing for local people.

Mr Gove is seeking to introduce proposals to force second home owners in England to seek planning permission before renting out their properties as holiday lets, insisting that “the issue there is a simple one of fairness”.

Holiday homeowners are turning coastal towns into hotels with an “almost permanent Airbnb setting,” he added.

Speaking to The Telegraph, the minister said: “We’re not saying that people shouldn’t be able, when they themselves are on holiday or away for business, to let out their home through Airbnb. Of course they can.

“But there is a phenomenon. And it does occur in coastal areas, and in some of our most attractive tourist areas; where you will have institutions buying up properties, and then having them in almost permanent Airbnb setting.

“And what they’ve done is that in effect, taken local housing stock – that local people expected it to be for them – and turned it into a sort of rival hotel.”

“I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be able to run a business like that. But if it is a business rather than a home, then we should recognise [that],” he added.

Welsh Conservatives have strongly opposed moves to tackle the issue of holiday homes being let out as businesses in Wales.

Anti-English

The party’s leader in the Senedd, Andrew RT Davies described the crackdown as “anti-tourism, and anti-English policies being imposed on the Welsh tourism industry”.

He also claimed the restrictions “will lead to tourism businesses being forced to close and thousands of tourism jobs lost.”

Janet Finch-Saunders, the Shadow Minister for Climate Change, accused the Welsh Government of being obsessed with targeting second homeowners and legitimate holiday let businesses and claims there will be “a tsunami driving landlords to sell up”.

The MS for Aberconwy also said efforts to reduce the number of holiday homes in communities is exacerbating the shortage of private rental properties in Wales.

Mrs Finch-Saunders most recent register of interests shows that she jointly owned seven properties, including a residential/holiday-let property in Menai Bridge with her daughter.

From 1 April all councils in Wales are allowed to set council tax premiums on second homes and long-term empty properties to 300%.

The criteria for self-catering accommodation being liable for business rates instead of council tax changed at the same time, from 70 to 182 days.

The government says this change will stop second home owners from classifying homes as businesses to avoid tax.

A licensing scheme for all visitor accommodation has also been confirmed.


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Owain Morgan
Owain Morgan
10 months ago

So, Michael Gove, of all people, gets this, but Tories in Wales don’t 🙄😒

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
10 months ago

There will be some Englishsplaining reason why it is different in Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
10 months ago

I would ask the Govester to reconsider! It’s racist againt Welsh people who want to buy these holiday properties!

Tim
Tim
10 months ago
Reply to  Dai Rob

😉👍 spot on

Gareth
Gareth
10 months ago

This just reinforces how out of touch the Tory’s in Cymru are, when the UK Gov want to adopt Senedd policies.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
10 months ago

Govey clamping down on second home owners in England. Puts RT in an awkward spot. To avoid being seen as a hypocrite, as if he’s bothered, he is going to HAVE to brand this anti English. Oh dear, whatever will he do?

George Thomas
George Thomas
10 months ago

So UK government will treating renting out second home as business if it’s holiday-let and investment not a business if it’s as private landlord?

It’s all a mess still.

Brechdan Wncomunco
10 months ago

I can’t understand why anyone would purchase a holiday home in Wales at this time.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
10 months ago

I can quite see how Michael Gove is anti-English. In my book he is virulently anti-human being.

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