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Second home owners to pay their fair share for local services

14 January 2022

A view across the Moors at West Devon

Today, 14 January 2022, the Government announced changes that close a tax loophole which allows second home owners to avoid paying any business rates or council tax on their properties.

Last year, West Devon Borough Council councillors resolved to lobby Central Government on this issue as part of a suite of plans to address the local housing crisis. As a result, the Council is delighted with today's news, which ensures second home owners will pay their fair share for essential local services including the police and fire service whilst protecting genuine holiday lets and local tourism.

Currently, people who own second homes in England can avoid paying council tax and access small business rates relief by declaring an intention to let the property out to holidaymakers. The change, which will come into effect from April 2023, will see second homeowners forced to pay council tax if they cannot show they are genuinely renting out their properties on a commercial basis.

As well as ensuring that second home owners pay fairly for services, it is hoped that the new change may also see more short-term holiday let properties switch to long-term rental. This would help to ease the chronic shortage of long-term rental accommodation at an affordable rate, making it easier for local families to remain in the communities they love.

Under the new rules, holiday lets must be rented out for a minimum of 70 days a year to qualify for business rates. Holiday let owners will have to provide evidence such as the website or brochure used to advertise the property, letting details and receipts. Properties will also have to be available to be rented out for 140 days a year to qualify for this relief.

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