Should Cornwall follow Wales on Second Homes?

From today’s Western Morning News:

Wales’ plans to increase tax for second-home owners should be implemented in Cornwall, some residents have said.

The Welsh government announced last week that it would change the maximum council tax premium which local authorities can charge on a second home, putting it up from 100% of the usual charge for full-time residents to 300%

The change comes into force in Wales from April 2023.

The premiums, which are an additional charge on top of council tax, will mean second home owners can be charged up to four times the amount that a regular, year-round resident would pay.

The idea, brought in by the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition which runs the Welsh Assembly, is designed to curb second-home ownership and prevent locals from being priced out of their home town or village.

Many people in Cornwall have since described the measure as a “good idea” and said the county should follow suit.

Taking to the WMN’s sister website, CornwallLive, on Facebook, Rose Lankston wrote: “Best thing that could ever happen. Need that to happen everywhere.” Fiona Davie added: “Cornwall should do the same”, while John Arthur said: “Well done Wales.”

Loveday Jenkin, a Mebyon Kernow Cornwall councillor, said there needs to be a rise of council tax on empty or under-utilised properties, including places rented out on the global website Airbnb.

Landlords who have been evicting full-time tenants and then selling their houses for a substantial profit or turning them into Airbnbs to cash in on the staycation boom are contributing to the county’s housing emergency, she explained.

“We need to do something in Cornwall,” she said. “That would be one tool. Other tools would be having a change of use from residential letting to holiday letting.

“Cornwall Council doesn’t have the power to increase the council tax either, that’s central government. We need to have more power.”

Landlords currently do not need to submit a planning application to turn a home into a holiday let, but Ms Jenkin said that could be one option to reduce the loss of homes for full-time residents to either rent or buy at a reasonable cost.

And she said it was ridiculous that people were challenging the measure in Wales. “If you can afford to buy a second home in Cornwall you’re likely to be able to pay a bit more council tax,” she said. “Just factor it into your budget.

“Wales is in a similar housing emergency as Cornwall.

“I’ve been dealing with people being evicted, this week actually a whole family who’s been living in the same home for 15 years are now in temporary accommodation in a caravan. What about the right of people in Cornwall to have a first home? What about the right not to be driven out of their home land?

“People are having to move away from Cornwall and are put in temporary accommodation. That’s wrong. It’s against their human rights.”

Second-home owners defend themselves pointing out the boost they and their holiday renters bring to the local tourist economy.

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