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Rental Sector Tax Grab - leading agency boss speaks out

A figure in one of the country’s highest profile lettings companies has hit out at a government proposal to penalise the holiday lettings sector.

The government floated the idea at the weekend, suggesting that Chancellor Jeremy Hunt would use tomorrow’s Budget to remove tax concessions for those who let furnished holiday and short let properties.

This would give Hunt £300m for pre-election giveaways.


Now Ben Edgar Spier, head of regulation and policy at Sykes Holiday Cottages, says: “If the news contained in the leak is accurate, this will represent another example of holiday let owners being unfairly scapegoated in the guise of controlling rising house prices and availability.

“There are many factors affecting housing supply and prices above and beyond short-term letting. Just last week, a CMA report on the housebuilding market showed that a failure to deal with the UK’s slow building rates over successive decades has significantly impacted the housing market. Only 178,010 homes were completed across England last year when Government targets have been 300,000.

“A report we commissioned by Oxford Economics found that short term lets contributed over £27.7 billion to the UK economy in 2021 and supported over 500,000 jobs amongst local residents. It’s illogical to penalise short-term let businesses over those with empty second homes when you consider the benefits tourism brings to local economies throughout the UK.

“There are nearly 1.4 million vacant homes in England, according to ONS figures – nearly 16 times more than holiday lets – and more than 100,000 in Wales. It makes more sense to tax these vacant buildings or underused second homes, which both contribute very little. A tax such as his would also encourage people to either sell empty second homes or let them.

“Holiday let owners are already under pressure from high mortgage rates and energy prices after the difficulties of Covid and in a time of price sensitivity for visitors. Squeezing them will not solve the housing crisis but will stifle the very businesses that support tourism spend and employment in communities across the country.”

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    This is a brilliant case of comparing apples with oranges. The issue raised by the government is that particularly in two areas, the Lake District and Cornwall, housing shortages have been caused by people renting out their homes as holiday lets with a significantly reduced tax liability over long term Landlords

    Having empty homes in Wales, or under used second homes is not justification for allowing holiday lets to attract less tax liability .Calling for other types of property to be taxed and not their own is churlish at best

    Should this quote not read.

    "it makes more sense to tax these vacant buildings or underused second homes, or short term holiday lets. A tax such as his would also encourage people to either sell holiday lets, empty second homes or let them."

    The financial contribution or otherwise that holiday lets industry in terms of contribution and employment it makes to the economy is irrelevant. This proposal simply is an introduction of a tax system which is already in place in the private rental sector and has been for a number of years.

    In the article, they were certainly no complaints about the current tax burden felt by these landlords unlike those who operate in the long-term private sector and who have seen their tax burden and mortgage cost steadily increase over a number of years.

    That is without mentioning the cost of compliance to every increasing regulation within the private rental sector that isn’t applied to the holiday let business

    Perhaps what might be equitable would be for the short-term holiday business to lobby the government to allow the same tax breaks and reduced compliance to long-term landlords as they enjoy. This would make it more attractive to rent property on a long-term basis.

    Using the argument that the holiday let business contributes £27.7 billion allegedly to the economy and that there are already 100,000 empty properties is no justification for the government not introducing a tax in line with the private rental sector.

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    I wonder if this person works for the government or one of the hate gangs, divide and conquer
    I was a long term landlord over 50 years to be passed onto family.
    How does it help us to make holiday let landlords the victims of the same injustice that we suffer ?
    As a result of the discrimination and injustice against landlords bought a few properties in europe best thing I ever did.
    European landlords are treated the same as every other business , none of the discrimination and hate crime suffered by British landlords and their families
    So as more properties are sold we will regrettably be no longer housing British families we will be housing Europeans sad but a direct result of the injustice discrimination and hate out families suffer

  • Kristjan Byfield

    That hospitality is taxed lower than housing is, quite frankly, a disgrace. S24 should (if not removed entirely) be flipped to holiday/short term accommodation. Ben Edgar Spier singing the woes of holiday lets is laughable. His business, and the sector as a whole, has benefitted immensely from the imbalance of regulation and tax. The exodus from PRS to holiday let is well-documented so to bemoan/dismiss that this impacts housing supply and pricing is dangerous or deranged. However, the only party to blame is our government. With Housing Ministers who take longer to eat their Sunday roast than they do staying in this role and a litany of changes disadvantaging the housing provided by PRS landlords against the hospitality markets this 'perfect storm' is the making of government and no one else.


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