Gwynedd hits back at second home owners

Rental cottage to let sign displayed in house window

Gwynedd Council has announced it will increase its council tax premium for second home owners and long-term empty property in the 2021/2022 financial year. The tax increase follows a public consultation in which over 55% of respondents said that second homes brought ‘positive benefits’ to the area.

However, almost 60% of those responding were, themselves, holiday home owners – and most people with first homes in the area said they were not in favour of second homes.

There are more holiday homes in Gwynedd than anywhere else in Wales and they account for just under 11% of the county’s housing stock. 6,849 homes are now designated as second homes.

Council tax on second homes and long-term empty property has already attracted a 50% premium since 2018, but this will be increased to 100% after council approval. This is the limit imposed by the Welsh Government, which gives councils the power to raise additional sums from council tax.

In 2020/21, the average Band D property in Gwynedd was rated at £1,760 before the attachment of any premium.

The extra funds raised is put towards a £77 million housing action plan which builds more properties aimed at clearing the increasingly long social housing waiting list. It is estimated that as many as 60% of local people are priced out of the housing market.

The council’s Ioan Thomas said: “Recent research has shown that the holiday homes emergency within the county has reached a critical point and that many people in Gwynedd find it near impossible to get a foot on the housing market – both to buy and to rent. The reality is that high house prices due to the demand for holiday units and second homes are pushing prices far beyond the reach of local people in an increasing number of our towns and villages.

Leader of Gwynedd Council, Craig ab Iago, said: “The situation is getting worse with Brexit and Covid and now the zoom boom – with people realising they don’t need to live in a city and Brexit making it harder for people to own second homes in France or Spain.”

Gwynedd boasts miles of golden beaches and access to the beautiful Snowdonia mountains, alongside lakes, castles, pretty villages and an away from the rat-race atmosphere. Average house prices here are just under £200,000, and the average detached property is now £280,000.

Even beach huts attract a premium and have reached extraordinary prices. In the ten years to 2016, house prices in the Llyn Peninsula increased by 376% and a beach hut in Abersoch near Pwllheli sold for £153,000. Abersoch is still the most expensive place to buy in Gwynedd, with several million pound plus homes.

The aptly-named ‘Shanty’ overlooking the sea sold for £2.25 million in October 2016. Planning permissions was soon sought for a proposed three storey replacement building, which was refused by the council.

Consultancy on this issue ended on 1st February 2021.