Welsh councils allowed to cap the number of second homes

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Homeowners in Wales who want to offer short-term holiday lets will now require a licence
Homeowners in Wales who want to offer short-term holiday lets will now require a licence

Welsh councils will be able to cap the number of second homes in their towns and villages, the Labour Government has announced.

Under the new plan, homeowners who want to offer short-term holiday lets, such as through Airbnb, will also require a licence.

Announcing the measures in a joint press conference with Plaid Cymru, Mark Drakeford, Welsh Labour First Minister, said that having “too many holiday properties and second homes” did not create “healthy local communities”.

It is the latest move against second home owners across the UK after English local authorities were granted the power to double council tax bills on second homes not in use or let out for at least 70 days per year.

Spot checks on holiday homes in England to ensure compliance with health and safety rules and deter anti-social behaviour by visitors have also been announced.

Local authorities in Wales have already been given the power to increase council tax on second homes by 300 per cent from next year.

One of the new ways councils in the country will limit second homes is through changes to planning regulation, which will create three classes of property: primary home; second home; and short-term holiday accommodation.

Welsh local authorities will then be able to make amendments to the planning system to require planning permission for a change of use from one class to another.

Mr Drakeford said he was introducing the measures to ensure local people could afford to live in their own communities.

‘No single, simple solution’

He added: “We have a shared ambition for Wales to be a nation of thriving communities - a country where people do not have to leave to find good and rewarding work and a country which people want to come to visit and to live.

“Tourism is vital to our economy but having too many holiday properties and second homes, which are empty for much of the year, does not make for healthy local communities and prices people out of the local housing market.

“There is no single, simple solution to these issues. Any action we take must be fair. We do not want to create any unintended consequences, which could destabilise the wider housing market or make it harder for people to rent or buy.”

There were 23,974 registered second homes in Wales at the beginning of 2022.

Adam Price, Plaid Cymru leader, said: “The aim is to give everyone ‘yr hawl i fyw adra’ - the ability to live and work in the communities in which they grew up.”

However, Suzy Davies, Wales Tourism Alliance chair, accused the Welsh Government of disregarding the “experience, expertise and livelihoods” in the tourism industry with the new measures.

Sam Rowlands, Conservative local government spokesman, also voiced concern.

He said: “I welcome increased responsibilities and opportunities for local authorities to support their communities, but I do worry this is just a top-down diktat from Labour and Plaid Cymru in Cardiff Bay.”

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