Move to make second home owners pay more tax is welcomed

Duncab Baker, Lynne Burdon and Liz WIthington

Duncan Baker, MP for north Norfolk; Lynne Burdon, chair of Homes for Wells; and Liz Withington, North Norfolk District Councillor. - Credit: Richard Townsnend Photography/Homes for Wells/Archant

A plan to force second home owners to pay more tax has been welcomed in north Norfolk.

Currently, owners of 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.

But from April 2023, they will have to prove holiday lets are being rented out for a minimum of 70 days a year to qualify for business rates.

wells

.Wells is a "honey pot" for second home owners and tourists alike on the North Norfolk Coast - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY

Properties will also have to be available to be rented out for 140 days a year.

Duncan Baker, MP for north Norfolk, said the proposal was a "step in the right direction".

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker - Credit: Richard Townshend Photography

He also said that he and MPs from other communities affected by second homes are to meet Michael Gove, secretary of state for levelling up, to talk about further proposals.

"One of those is increasing the council tax on second home owners, where they would pay a higher rate of council tax, and the money goes back to the district council to pay for local services," Mr Baker said.

North Norfolk has the second-highest rate of second and holiday homes in the country, with 6,697 (11.6pc of total housing stock) second homes registered in the district in 2020

Lynne Burdon Homes for Wells

Lynne Burdon, chair of Homes for Wells, a group working to provide affordable housing in the town. - Credit: Homes for Wells

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Lynne Burdon, chair of Homes for Wells, a campaign group working to provide affordable housing, said the new measures were "a good idea, as long as any additional money comes back to support the local community".

"In Wells, 40pc of properties are holiday lets, so it's very hard for local people to buy a home," she said.

"We would support more council tax for second home owners and we want to see that extra money going to local communities instead of the national coffers.

"Second home owners are welcome in Wells. We just want to see them contribute their fair share to the community."

Nice view from the four red-starred Blakeney Hotel

Nice view from the four red-starred Blakeney Hotel - Credit: AA

Councillor Liz Withington, member of North Norfolk District Council for Sheringham (north) ward, said: "I think it's a small step of many that are needed.

"We need more local means to mitigate the impact of second homes, as in Wales, where there is a council tax levy.

Norfolk councillors have called on the government to review a law allowing second-home owners to avo

Norfolk councillors have called on the government to review a law allowing second-home owners to avoid paying council tax. Pictured, councillor Liz Withington. Photo: Archant - Credit: Archant

"But the devil will be in the detail with the legislation. How stringent will they be with the evidence? Because anyone can make a website to make it appear you're open as a holiday let," she said.