Why second homes are a problem for UK housing

Why are second homes a problem?

Second homes can be a problem as there is a housing shortage in the UK.

Both house prices and rents have risen significantly over the past year across the country and one of the contributing factors to this problem has been the lack of affordable housing.

Second homes can eat away at housing supply, especially in coastal areas where many unoccupied homes can turn towns and villages into ghost towns outside of the holiday season, affecting job prospects and the local economy .

They can also be turned into a vacation rental, available for rent on Airbnb or other short-term rental sites. A second home can be registered as a small business if it is available for vacation rental for more than 140 days per year.

Subscribe to The Big Problem

Support us

Grab a print or digital subscription to The Big Issue and provide an essential lifeline to our work.

Second homes also pose a problem for the transparency of British politics.

Transparency International UK’s (TIUK) analysis of parliamentary disclosures found that 40% of MPs and peers had a registered interest in the property, with 177 MPs owning 312 residential properties between them – collectively worth more than £31million. pound sterling. This means that just over a quarter of MPs have a second home, three times as many as 9% of households in England.

While some MPs may have a second home for work purposes, 113 MPs generated “significant” rental income from a second property, which Parliamentary rules define as £10,000 or more a year. TIUK estimated those MPs received a combined annual rent of £2.6million, but said the actual figure was likely to be much higher.

“As parliamentarians are much more likely to own second homes than the general population, it is reasonable to ask how representative their experience of the housing crisis is and whether this affects political appetite for change. “, said Daniel Bruce, Managing Director of TIUK.

How many second homes are there in the UK?

An estimated 772,000 households have second homes, according to the English Housing Survey, with 495,000 of them located in the UK.

In Wales, there were just under 24,000 registered second homes in the country at the start of 2022 while there was an almost identical number in Scotland in September 2021.

A recent BBC study revealed that the number of holiday rentals in England has increased by 40% over the past three years. The total number of vacation rentals, drawn from data provided by 152 municipalities, stood at 27,424 in 2021 compared to just 19,543 in 2018.

What are we doing to prevent people from leaving second homes empty?

In previous years, it was up to communities themselves say no to second homes.

Such was the case in St Ives in Cornwall in 2016. A referendum was held to put the decision in the hands of residents on whether to ban second homes – and more than 80% of 12,000 parishioners backed it . This introduced a neighborhood plan that blocked new homes from being built unless they were for full-time residents.

Similar actions have been taken elsewhere, including in Whitby in North Yorkshire and Beadnell in Northumberland.

But the measures have failed to stem the tide of holiday homes – Morag Robertson of St Ives Community Land Trust recently said The Guardian that the inhabitants “should have gone further” to clear the site of second homes.

Further measures are taken in 2022.

Brighton is also considering stopping new build from becoming second homes, making it the first city in the UK to do so.

The Green-led council is now exploring the plans after they were proposed by Labor councilor Gill Williams in June. Williams said: “Our city is on the cutting edge of the housing crisis. The Greater Brighton area is facing a ‘lost generation’ of working age individuals and families. We risk losing entire classes in our local schools due to the lack of affordable housing that makes people out of the area pay.

The Welsh Government has announced a planning overhaul to strengthen its own response to the problem.

Big Issue Foundation

Your donation today will connect people living in poverty to the vital resources, services and opportunities needed to begin their journey to a new future. You will support people in key areas including housing, finances, mental health and employment.

Although rules are already in place to give councils the power to increase municipal tax premiums on second and empty homesthe ministers opened a consultation on the modulation of the tax on land transactions locally in areas with a large number of second homes.

Three new classes of urban planning use – a main residence, a secondary residence and a short-term holiday residence – will be put in place at the end of the summer. Local authorities will also have the ability to control the number of second homes and vacation rentals through the national planning policy.

“Tourism is vital to our economy, but having too many vacation properties and second homes, which sit empty for much of the year, does not create healthy local communities and excludes people from the local housing market” said Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford. .

“There is no simple, one-size-fits-all solution to these problems. Any action we take must be right. We don’t want to create unintended consequences, which could destabilize the broader housing market or make it harder for people to rent or buy.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove has also spoken out about tackling the “scourge” of second homes.

The government’s proposed plans to regulate second homes and vacation rentals would include surprise inspections and bans to prevent second home owners from renting their homes out on short-term rentals for 90 days or more.

Gove’s proposed changes are set out in the Leveling and Regeneration Bill which was announced during the Queen’s Speech in May and is currently going through Parliament.

As it stands, the bill gives councils the power to double council tax for second homes and long-term empty homes after a year’s vacancy.

However, second homes will not be treated in the same way as houses left vacant, with council tax rates increasing the longer a property is vacant, up to five or ten years old.

The plan, which would introduce discretionary powers for local authorities to raise council tax by up to 300%, has the backing of the Local Government Association.

“From the South West coasts and rural ghost towns of the Cotswolds to the empty Thames side towers of London’s Nine Elms and Southwark, the second home crisis and Airbnb explosion continue to squeeze housing supply “said Chris Bailey, national campaign manager at Action on Empty Homes.

But what does Airbnb do with all this?

The short-term rentals giant told the House of Lords built environment committee in May that there was “no evidence” linking the company to a housing shortage.

Amanda Cupples, Managing Director of Airbnb Northern Europe, said: “The reality is that we don’t know much. There is in fact no evidence base establishing any link between short-term housing and housing shortages.

Comments are closed.