Authorities across Wales would be better off focusing on implementing rural exception policies to help ease the country’s shortage of affordable housing rather than hiking up council tax rates on second homes.
That’s the view of property experts at Bruton Knowles who believe there are not enough incentives to encourage landowners and farmers to come forward and build affordable new properties on their land.
Accepting that something needs to be done to help build more new homes, squeezing extra cash out of those who have already invested in the area in which their property is located is counter-productive and will not solve the issue.
Instead local authorities should consider making it easier for landowners to release sites in rural areas for development or allow development on land they own.
Stephen James of Bruton Knowles said: “It wasn’t that long ago when local authorities were happy for second-home buyers to reclaim the stamp duty because they were buying in a deprived area.
“Many who have bought a property in Wales have most probably spent time and money on improvements, using local tradespeople to do the work. They also spend money in the local economy and if they let it out encourage others to visit the area.
“Overall they have more than likely helped improve many areas for the better and I fear the message coming across is that second home owners aren’t welcome.
“A lot of these second properties aren’t really suitable for first time buyers or young families as they are often found in remote parts of the country so amenities like schools and shops are further away.
“Affordable housing needs to be where people want to live and are supported by local services and a public transport service. Making it easier for landowners or farmers who own land close to towns and villages to build new homes makes more sense.
“Also the revenue raised through this second home council tax won’t bring in enough to build affordable homes and just seems to be a measure to squeeze more out of those who have already invested in the area.”
Rural exception policies work where a small number of open market homes are allowed on an exception site as a way to increase viability and provide more of an incentive to landowners to bring forward sites.
This allows limited provision of small sites to be developed for affordable housing in rural communities
Stephen added: “An advantage of rural exception sites is that it allows people with a local connection, such as those living in a parish, have close family living by, are employed in the area or grew up in the area, and who have a housing need, are given priority in the affordable housing allocation process.
“Also landowners usually have strong ties to their communities and are often local employers and they will want to help maintain the community for future generations, and long-term investment in housing by using exception policies is a very good way to do this and we hope local councils look at this further to help more people live in areas they want to.”