North Devon holiday home tax dodgers face crackdown

North Devon Gazette

Owners of second homes in North Devon who abuse a tax loophole by claiming their often empty properties are holiday lets will be forced to pay under tough new measures.

The changes will target people who take advantage of the system to avoid paying their fair share towards local services in popular destinations such as North Devon.

Currently, owners of second homes can avoid paying council tax and access small business rates relief by simply declaring an intention to let the property out to holidaymakers. However, concerns have been raised that many never actually let their homes.

Following consultation, the government will now bring changes to the tax system, which will mean second homeowners must pay council tax if they are not genuine holiday lets.

From next April second homeowners will have to prove holiday lets are being rented out for a minimum of 70 days a year to access small business rates relief.

Holiday let owners will have to provide evidence such as the website or brochure used to advertise the property, letting details and receipts. Properties will also have to be available to be rented out for 140 days a year to qualify for this relief.

North Devon MPÂ Selaine Saxby said: "I welcome these changes which have been a long time in the making.Â

"The Charity, UK Housing Crisis, estimates that 4.69 per cent of North Devon’s total housing stock is not for primary occupancy compared with 1.54 per cent in Birmingham and 1.71 per cent in Exeter. The Campaign to Protect Rural England have said that there has been a 1,000 per cent increase in homes listed for short term lets nationally between 2015 and 2021 

"With over 600,000 empty properties in England as well, we can, and will, do a lot more to provide homes for local families that does not involve building out our green and pleasant land. We do need to build new homes but we should also be managing what we already have better and utilising the developed brownfield sites we have to provide family homes close to existing communities."

"I was pleased to receive a response from Housing Minister Christopher Pincher MP detailing this and other steps the government is planning, along with additional support being provided to support our local planning authority, North Devon Council to be able to do more”