Don’t Condemn All Second Home Owners – We’re Not All ‘Greedy’ Homeowners | Secondary residences
George Monbiot’s article (Second homes are a blatant injustice, yet British government encourages them, 23 June) and the letters in response (Grotesque subsidies for second home owners, 25 June) give the impression that thousands of vacation home owners are depriving local families of homes. This may be the case for those who keep a second home for personal use while it remains empty for much of the year. However, the case against vacation homes is not as straightforward as it seems.
When we retired a few years ago, we bought an abandoned building, which had never been a home, and renovated it into a vacation home using our ‘pension fund’, instead of putting it in storage. Investment Funds. We hired a local builder and other tradespeople to do the conversion work. It is rented out to vacationers about 35 weeks a year. Income is, in fact, our pension, and we pay income tax on the rents we receive. We make the property available for up to six weeks per year, including school vacations, at no cost, through a charity that provides free vacations to families in need. We use it ourselves about four weeks a year.
We pay the local people to clean for the changes and for the routine maintenance. Although we have small business rate relief, we still pay for municipal services such as garbage collection, and we make a voluntary donation to the local parish council. Vacationers bring money into the local economy by spending in shops, restaurants, attractions, etc.
Yes, it wouldn’t be a bad thing if there was some control, through the use of planning permission, to limit the number of units that are not permanent residences, especially in popular resort areas. . But please don’t condemn all vacation homes out of hand. Vacation homes offer a simple and economical way to enjoy a self-catering stay all year round. There is no doubt that thousands of Guardian readers rent holiday homes every year, whether in the UK or abroad (where the terms ‘gîte’ and ‘villa’ perhaps make them more acceptable. ).
The absence of vacation homes would remove this option for several thousand people each year.
The discussion around second homes is much more complex than George Monbiot and the letters reflect it. I know this from my personal experience.
I was a single mom, worked full time, and found myself able to buy a second property with a mortgage as a rental purchase. I took a huge financial risk. I rented it from the town hall which was able to use it to house the same family for 13 years. I paid to bring the house up to council standards at a time when I didn’t have the money to renovate the house I lived in with my children. We did not have a vacation or luxury. I invested in real estate for my future and that of my children. There was no alternative.
I then inherited the money from my mother, who bought a house in the 1960s. She never had a vacation, went abroad, or had no money available and still has lived sparingly. I paid off a mortgage and rented this property to the municipality, which used it to house refugees.
I have paid taxes on my income from properties for the past 13 years and have not made any wealth owning them. I have since sold both of these properties and paid a huge amount of capital gains tax.
I don’t have a pension to speak of as I raised a family and had a mid-paid career in the NHS, not enough to support myself. Now I have to wait until I’m 67 before I get a state pension and can finally relax (hopefully).
Most of the people I know who own a second home are not “greedy” owners, but are simply trying to secure the future of their family or their own pension.
The lack of social housing, decent wages, savings accounts that actually earn interest, and a proper state pension are what have fueled the rise in house prices over the past 40 years. The current government has made matters worse with the recent stamp duty holiday.
Dividing ourselves into “haves” and “have-nots” will not solve this problem. A well thought out and sustainable social policy.