As of April 2018, anybody who owns a second home or a holiday property in Gwynedd, North Wales, will see their council tax bill increase by 50%.
Gwynedd Council is one of a number of county councils in Wales who have decided to increase the amount of council tax they will levy on ‘long-term empty’ properties.
The Welsh Local Government Association said it means that second homes can now make a ‘fair contribution’ to the community.
There are 5,000 second homes in Gwynedd (the highest proportion anywhere in Wales) and 1,000 long term empty properties. This, says the council, is inflating house prices and putting property ownership out of the reach of local people.
However, some councillors have warned that the new council tax increase may see property owners attempt to avoid paying the additional council tax. The council acknowledges that there are ‘exceptions’ in the regulations where the premium cannot be raised.
For example, if an owner transfers the rating designation of their property to ‘self-catering unit’ which is commercially let for holidays, they would pay business rates to the UK Treasury rather than council tax to the local authority.
Evidently, that would have potentially unintended negative consequences for the council’s net income.
In Wales, in order to have their property rated as a ‘self-catering unit’ and valued for business rates, second home owners must make their property available to let for 140 days or more per year and then let it for a minimum of 70 days.
The rules in England and Wales are slightly different – you can find more information on the UK Government’s website here.
If you do not intend to let your property as defined above then expect your council tax bill to change substantially from 1st April 2018.
It’s worth reading Gwynedd Council’s online guide to the new council tax charges, which includes detail about definitions and exemptions.