The Welsh Government has announced potential new measures to address the issue of second home owners pricing locals out of the housing market in popular tourism destinations.
The first measure is to allow local councils to set council tax premiums of up to 300% on second homes and long-term empty properties from April 2023 (the current allowed premium is 100%). Individual councils will be allowed to determine whether they apply a premium, the level of the premium (up to the 300% maximum) and whether different premiums should be set for second homes and vacant homes.
The second measure, which is more important for the tourism industry is the announcement that the criteria for self-catering accommodation being eligible for business rates instead of council tax will also change from next April. The current requirement is for properties to be available to let for at least 140 days a year and let for at least 70 days a year in order to be eligible for business rates. From next April this will increase significantly to having to be available to rent for at least 252 days and actually let for at least 182 days in any 12-month period.
The Wales Tourism Alliance is extremely concerned about this proposed second measure and will be responding to the consultation. These proposals will be significantly greater than the requirement for self-catering operators in England (available for 140 days a rented for 70 days a year the current Wales level) and there are concerns that many self-catering businesses will be able to achieve these new thresholds.