North Yorkshire tackles rise in second homes at council tax premium | Yorkshire

The coastal towns of Whitby and Scarborough will be among the first in England to double the council tax on second homes to tackle the ‘scourge’ of holiday breaks.

Councilors said the rise of Airbnb and other rental sites was “tearing at the hearts of communities”, as they voted to introduce a 100% bonus for second home owners in North Yorkshire.

About 28% of properties in Whitby are holiday homes. Real estate agents said that as many as three-quarters of new developments in the city have been sold as short-term rentals or to investors.

A vote in Northallerton on Wednesday means North Yorkshire will become one of the first places in England to double council tax on second homes under the government’s settlement bill, which passes parliament.

The earliest a new installment of council tax will come into force is April 2024 if the bill is passed into law by April next year.

Councils in Cornwall and other tourist hotspots are considering whether to offer the same fees. In Wales local authorities have been given powers to quadruple council tax bills on holiday homes.

A meeting of North Yorkshire County Council was told on Wednesday that the proliferation of properties on sites such as Airbnb was “disrupting communities” and forcing local residents out.

David Chance, a member of the Board of Governors, said the shortage of available homes meant there were 96 applications for every social housing property in Whitby.

In the village of Lower Roonswick, he said, there were only 11 permanent residents and the remaining properties were vacation rental homes or second homes.

“The people of Whitby cannot afford to buy a house in their town,” he said. “We’ve built a lot of houses in Whitby recently and they’ve all been snapped up by strangers.

“A lot has gone into second homes; a lot has gone into vacation homes and vacation rentals, and it’s tearing at the hearts of communities. Our village communities are suffering badly.”

Janet Jefferson, an independent North Yorkshire Councilor, said she was dealing with “constant calls” from residents being evicted from properties that “suddenly become holiday homes”.

“They get rid of people who have been renting for years because they can make more money,” she said.

Jefferson said that homes in her coastal ward are being converted into vacation homes “every day” without the need for planning permission, adding: “It’s affecting our communities. It’s disintegrating our communities.”

Local authorities in Wales have managed to double their council tax bills for second homes since April 2017.

Earlier this year, the devolved Welsh government changed the law to allow councils to charge premiums at 300%, which means a bill of £1,000 becomes £4,000.

Second home owners in Gwynedd, northwest Wales, were told on Wednesday they would have to pay a 150% premium from next April under plans put forward by the local authority.

Ewan Thomas, a member of the finance cabinet for Gwynedd Council, said the extra money would go towards tackling homelessness, which he said had risen by 47% in the area over the past two years.