House price fall predicted in holiday let clampdown

For sale signs outside some houses
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House prices could fall in the Lake District amid plans to tighten rules around holiday lets

  • Published

House prices in the Lake District will likely fall due to plans to tighten rules around holiday lets, a planning officer has said.

English planning authorities are to get the power to block new short-term holiday lets.

However, similar powers in Wales have caused concerns about a house price "crash", with residents saying they had suffered "sleepless nights" over the changes.

The government said it was responding to calls for greater control, adding: "We want to make the best use of existing housing by keeping homes for people to buy or rent."

Housing Secretary Michael Gove announced in February that planning authorities, which included national park authorities, would be able to require anyone seeking to turn a home into a short-term holiday let to obtain planning permission.

Areas would need to opt in to the new powers, but a timetable for their introduction has not yet been set by the government.

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Lake District planning officer Andrew Smith said house prices would likely fall, under the new rules

Head of development management at Lake District National Park Authority Andrew Smith said that the new system would likely lead to a fall in house prices.

"Bluntly, that's part of the point," he said. "We see a shortage of permanent homes for people to live in, people who need to live in the area and work in the area."

The national park authority has written to the government saying it wished to use the new powers as soon as they were introduced nationally.

'Sleepless nights'

There has been controversy over a similar move in parts of Wales. In 2022, the Labour-led government introduced powers which allowed local authorities to require planning permission for both holiday lets and second homes.

In the popular village of Abersoch, Wales, where nearly half of properties are holiday lets or second homes, one estate agent said the proposals had already hit house prices by "up to 24%".

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Abersoch resident Suzie Hookes felt the new powers were "criminal"

Local resident and business owner Suzie Hookes said the proposals were giving her "sleepless nights".

"I've worked so far for my house and to pay my mortgage, and the fact that someone might whip that away from me is criminal," she said.

She said no-one could "believe that a council can dictate to us who we can sell our house to".

Council tax powers

Meanwhile, both Westmorland & Furness Council and Cumberland Council have opted to use separate new powers granted by the government to increase council tax on second homes.

Both authorities are levying a 100% increase in the rate for second homes and unoccupied furnished properties from next April.

Conservation worker Katherine, 27, who grew up in the Lake District, welcomed the proposals because it "lets people actually get on the housing ladder in the area they're from", she said.

Ms Andrews has recently moved into a small terraced cottage near Windermere owned by Lakeland Housing Trust, which provides rented homes for local people who cannot afford to buy property in the area.

The number of holiday lets "makes it very hard to live in the national park", she said, adding "most of my friends don't".

"If you can afford a second home you can afford to pay more council tax," Ms Andrews said.

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Ann said people in Wales had been negatively affected by similar council tax rules on second homes

In Gwynedd, Wales, a 150% council tax premium was set on second homes in April 2023.

Ann owns a second home in the village of Nefyn on the Llŷn Peninsula and said the council tax increase was a "punitive measure" which was causing some second home owners to sell up.

"If they're selling the more expensive [second homes] then local people aren't going to be able to afford those because they don't earn the wages around here that would be able to afford those," she said.

A Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities spokesperson said: "We want to make the best use of existing housing by keeping homes for people to buy or rent.

"That’s why we are responding to calls from local communities and their MPs to provide greater control in areas where there is a high number of short term lets."

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