Government set to close tax loophole for second home owners

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, looks set to introduce new rules next year which will mean second home owners can only register for business rates relief if they can prove they rent out their properties for at least 70 days per year.

Owners could face paying more than £1,000 a year under plans to close the loophole.

As the rules stand, second home owners pay business rates, which are cheaper than council tax, if they make their property available for letting for 140 days in the coming year.

But once the change takes place in April next year, home owners will have to prove they are let for at least 70 days a year or be forced to pay council tax instead.

The move comes following a surge in the number of holiday lets in England, with around 65,000 residential units currently registered, up from 50,960 in 2019.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) also says that there is currently ‘no requirement’ to produce evidence that a second home has actually been let out – not just left empty.

The DLUHC says the move would protect ‘genuine’ small holiday letting businesses and ensure second-home owners paid a ‘fair’ contribution towards public services.

Mr Gove’s plans come after a consultation launched in 2018 and moves last year by the Treasury to close the loophole.

According to reports, the number of holiday lets in England has been increasing year on year from 50,960 in 2019 to 65,000 now.

The Covid pandemic is said to have fuelled the trend, as London and other city dwellers sought to escape to the countryside.

Levelling Up Minister Chris Pincher replied: ‘We have committed to close the loophole in the business rate system.’

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