Holiday lets 'going to ruin' in seaside Yorkshire village as second homes left empty

Residents in the village of Staithes, North Yorkshire, says its holiday homes are left unoccupied throughout much of the year.

Staithes, Yorkshire's most northern village
Staithes is the most northern village in Yorkshire. (Reach)

Residents in a picturesque seaside village in Yorkshire say holiday lets there have "gone to ruin" as the second homes are left empty for much of the year.

Locals in Staithes, the most northern village in Yorkshire, say they have been priced out by people buying second homes and landlords renting out cottages for holiday lets.

They have described their once thriving village as "sad" and "surreal" during the periods when it isn't thronged with tourists.

Residents say Staithes is not suitable for "modern families".

Fudge maker Kerry Parkes, who runs the Rent Good Fudge shop, has lived in the village for just over a year.

The mother-of-two, originally from Sheffield, lives on the outskirts of the village and walks into the centre each day.

Fudge maker Kerry Parkes says walking through Staithes at night can feel 'surreal'
Fudge maker Kerry Parkes said holiday lets in Staithes, North Yorkshire, have gone to 'ruin'. (Reach)

“There’s a lot of holiday lets, it is sad," she said.

"The thing that is really sad is people who have got them as second homes, but they never ever come.

"So, they are left empty for the majority of the year, and they just go to wrack and ruin. That’s a shame."

She added: “In winter, when you’re walking down, there’s not many lights on in the cottages and it is a bit surreal, really.”

Staithes, Yorkshire's most northern village
Locals say many holiday lets in Staithes, North Yorkshire, are left empty. (Reach)

Lifelong resident Vanessa Ditchburn, 53, said most families have moved away from the centre of the Staithes towards the coast, and those that remained have gone to more modern estates outside the village.

“It makes me feel really sad, really sad," she said. "Growing up in the village, we were all used to playing together down in the village. There were lots of children down there.

"If people are just staying here on holiday, it’s not the same as people living here, is it? There’s still a community but now it’s further out of the village, in the new houses at the top.

"There’s different expectations now. Modern families maybe don’t want to live down there.”

'You just see tourists'

Chef Luke Gilmour, 42, works at The Royal George, one of three pubs in the village.

He lives with his family just outside the centre of the village, which he says is now more catered to tourists.

“If you come on a cold or miserable day, it’s not very busy at all," he said.

"You just see tourists, there’s no locals.

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Chef Luke Gilmour says Staithes has evolved into a village more suited to tourism
Chef Luke Gilmour lives on the outskirts of the village of Staithes, North Yorkshire. (Reach)
Staithes, Yorkshire's most northern village
An empty street in the village of Staithes, North Yorkshire. (Reach)

“It keeps me in a job, without a lot of visitors there wouldn’t be a need for a full-time chef all the time. I’ve worked in all three pubs in the village and it does bring custom.

“With the way the village is, there’s not a lot of ideal homes down the bottom. There’s no parking or gardens. It’s the ideal holiday cottage, it does suit it a lot better.”

What are the rules around second homes?

Some councils are trying to clamp down on holiday lets.

Last year, North Yorkshire Council voted to double the council tax on second homeowners in an effort to make more homes available for locals.

However, the controversial move will rely on government legislation in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which is currently going through the House of Lords.

In April, levelling up secretary Michael Gove launched a consultation on plans that would require second homeowners to obtain planning permission if they want to use their property as a holiday let in a tourist hotspot in England.

London, UK. 14th Sep, 2023. Ministers at the Cabinet office Michael Gove, Levelling Up Secretary, Credit: Ian Davidson/Alamy Live News
Levelling up secretary Michael Gove has launched proposals for stricter rules on holiday lets. (Alamy)

The government says that furnished holiday lettings must be available for at least 210 days in the year, and must be let commercially to the public for at least 105 days in the year.

According to the government, second homeowners can be charged extra council tax if the property has been empty for two years or more.

If it has been empty for 10 years or more, they could be charged up to four times the normal council tax.

Homeowners who buy a second home will usually have to pay 3% on top of normal rates of stamp duty. They can apply for a refund of the extra 3% if they sell their previous main home within three years.