Holiday homes issues

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You will be aware that we have been doing a great deal of work behind the scenes around some of perceived issues relating to the sharing accommodation sector. Essentially we are seeking more transparency regarding who is actually operating, where and when so that the appropriate and necessary regulations that is rightly still apply to the traditional accommodation sector can be appropriately and properly applied to this new sector, and in particular to the increasing numbers within it who appear to be operating full-scale commercial accommodating businesses under the guise of the part-time, small-scale, sharing of spare assets.

In recent weeks and months there has been considerable discussion nationally on holiday homes.  Specifically on the one hand proposals to restrict second home ownership in some holiday honey pot locations (limited in reality we understand to rules on the future purchase of new-build properties) and on the other of allegation of exploitation of the existing holiday accommodation letting rules within England for the avoidance of much-needed council tax payments.

It is alleged that second home owners may be claiming that their second homes are holiday lets available for rental for 140 or more days and therefore subject to non-domestic rates.  They are not actually letting the properties to anyone but then claim the 100% small business rate relief available on business below a rateable value of £12k, so they pay neither business or domestic rates.  In Wales the regulation has been changed so that the property must also be let for at least 70 of the 140 days or more that they are made available for letting, if they are to be treated as businesses.

These two issues don’t relate directly to the sharing economy but they could to an extent muddy the waters when we are arguing for a level playing field and a need to ensure that the sharing economy operate on a safe,  legal and fair basis, alongside the traditional market.

Do colleagues have any local examples of these or similar issues that they have experienced in the holiday homes market or any qualitative or quantitative evidence  to support or deny the popular press report on this subject?  Equally any additional examples of any issues and any evidence on the impact of the sharing economy would be most useful;  albeit I accept that the biggest problem currently faced is that the sharing accommodation activity is largely hidden and the physical resource and the ability to readily identify who is operating what, where and when from the information available to you on the  sharing platforms is all but non-existent (deliberately obscured?).  Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

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