The Yorkshire seaside towns of Whitby and Scarborough will be among the first in England to double council tax on second homes to tackle the “blight” of holiday lets.
Josh Halliday www.theguardian.com
Councillors said the rise of Airbnb and other rental sites was “tearing the heart out of communities”, as they voted to introduce a 100% premium on owners of second homes in North Yorkshire.
In Whitby, about 28% of properties are holiday homes. Estate agents said that as many as three-quarters of new developments in the town are being sold as short-term lets or to investors.
The vote in Northallerton on Wednesday means North Yorkshire will become one of the first places in England to double council tax on second homes under the government’s levelling up bill, which is currently going through parliament.
The earliest the new council tax premium will take effect is April 2024 if the bill is passed into law by April next year.
Councils in Cornwall and other tourist hotspots are considering whether to introduce the same charge. In Wales, local authorities have been given powers to quadruple council tax bills on holiday homes.
A meeting of North Yorkshire county council was told on Wednesday that the proliferation of properties on sites such as Airbnb was “breaking up communities” and forcing out locals.
David Chance, a Conservative councillor, said the shortage of available homes meant there were 96 applications for each social housing property in Whitby.
In Runswick Bay’s lower village, he said, there were only 11 permanent residents and the remaining properties were holiday lets or second homes.
“Whitby people cannot afford to purchase a home in their own town,” he said. “We’ve built a lot of homes in Whitby recently and they’ve all been snapped up by outsiders.
“A lot have gone to second homes; a lot have gone to holiday homes and to holiday lets, and it’s tearing the heart out of communities. Our village communities are suffering greatly.”
Janet Jefferson, a North Yorkshire independent councillor, said she was dealing with “constant calls” from residents being evicted from properties that “have suddenly become holiday homes”.
“They are getting rid of people that have rented for years because they can make more money,” she said.
Jefferson said houses in her coastal ward were being turned into holiday homes “every day” without the need for planning permission, adding: “It’s affecting our communities. It’s breaking up our communities.”
Local authorities in Wales have in effect been able to double council tax bills on second homes since April 2017.
Earlier this year, the devolved Welsh government changed the law to allow councils to impose 300% premiums, meaning a £1,000 bill would become £4,000.
Owners of second homes in Gwynedd, north-west Wales, were told on Wednesday they would have to pay a 150% premium from next April under plans put forward by the local authority.
Ioan Thomas, Gwynedd council’s finance cabinet member, said the additional money would go towards tackling homelessness, which he said had risen by 47% in the area over the last two years.